INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A 12-year-old boy was on life support late Thursday afternoon after he was shot inside a house while playing the video game Fortnite, according to his family and police.
A stray bullet from outside the house struck Day’Shawn Bills, and the Indianapolis police chief said he does not believe the boy was the target of what is believed to have been a drive-by shooting. The seventh-grader was taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in critical condition, police said.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has not said if it knows of a suspect or a motive for the shooting. IMPD officers arrived about 3:30 a.m. Thursday to find Day’Shawn inside a bullet-ridden house in the 3400 block of North Leland Avenue. That’s northeast of the intersection of Emerson Avenue and East 34th Street.
One of Day’shawn’s cousins told News 8 that the 12-year-old had spent the night at his grandmother’s house because he had planned to wake up early to help his family wash cars.
Ida Davis, Day’Shawn’s grandmother, told News 8, “We don’t have no answers. We don’t know why. He was just innocent.”
“He didn’t do nothing wrong to anybody. For somebody to just rip his live right from under him like that … he was just a child. He was a baby, and you just did that to him. We don’t understand why,” his grandmother added. “All we want is justice for him. That’s all we want, and we want answers.”
Davis says she’s ready to get her family out of the residential neighborhood where crime has been on the rise. “Well, we plan on moving. We’re not going to stay here. I don’t know. We just have to take it one day at a time, step by step. We don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t know where we’re going to go.”
Davis said her grandson enjoyed playing basketball. He was a student at Arlington Community Middle School, an Indianapolis Public Schools facility, his family said. The middle school’s principal declined to talk with News 8 about Day’Shawn, but the school district issued a statement Thursday night.
“The Indianapolis Public Schools community extends our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Day’Shawn Bills, a 7th grade student at Arlington Middle School. This is a tragedy that our families and communities should never have to experience, and we are saddened by the gun violence that continues to impact us all.”Indianapolis Public Schools
Day’Shawn’s aunt Penelope Hopkins told News 8, “The family is saddened right now.”
“Who done it? We would like to know who done it and why. Why would you do this?” Hopkins asked.
Day’Shawn’s uncle Ricky Williams was the one who called 911. Williams said of his nephew, “He was a good guy. He didn’t do nothing, not for that to happen. He was only 12 years old. His uncle took him every day to work. That’s all he wanted to do was go be with his uncle, and his uncle owned the mobile wash, cut grass, and they do all that and was with them every day. I don’t see how this happened. What was going on?”
An impromptu memorial of flowers and balloons went up outside the home as the community learned of the shooting.
Antonio Patton, a community activist who lives on the east side, said Thursday outside the home where Day’Shawn was shot that he is “disgusted” and “sickened” by the continuing gunplay in the area. “I’m shaking in my legs right now, and my heart is bursting and it breaks in a million pieces because we have these young men and their lives have been snatched prematurely. I’m tired of doing memorials. I’m tired of the candle vigils.”
Dorothy Gillard lives across the street from the house where Day’Shawn was hit. She remembers watching the boy play basketball.
Gillard said she was sleeping on a chair in the front room of her home when she heard the gunshots; she fell as she dropped to the floor. She’s lived on Leland Avenue for 55 years. She said she can’t take it anymore. Hours after the shooting, she was still nervous. Gillard says she’s going to be looking move soon.
“I’m just sorry. I feel bad about it, anybody,” she said. “When young people get hurt like that, it really worries me.”
Next door to Gillard, Lester Shirley remembers watching Day’Shawn walk by on the way to the store. He says he seemed like a nice kid. “I’m sorry for your loss. Something’s wrong in the neighborhood.”
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor, at a morning news conference with the city’s mayor, also expressed frustration about the shooting. Taylor noted four children, including an unborn child, have been killed in the city since the start of 2021.
The chief said, “Why are we at this point? It is a police issue that we have to concern ourselves with — what is going on and what happens — but it is not a police issue from the standpoint of why people are pulling triggers and doing this stuff. We will do our part in getting these people off the street, but we need the community’s help in identifying who these people are.”