Crime Watch 8

Indianapolis considers calling gun violence a public health danger

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - As we head toward what could be another record-setting year for murders in Indianapolis, city leaders are considering gun violence to be a public health danger.

The idea of establishing a public health danger is to open up more funding and grant opportunities beyond what the city to stop gun violence. 

The sound of gunshots has become too common for some in Indianapolis, even on a Sunday drive at East 38th Street and Shadeland Avenue.

"It was six rounds it was so fast it sounded like it was right in my ear," said Dorothy Turner.

That ended up being a triple shooting

What is never expected is when that bullet pierces someone you love. 

"The worst phone call a parent can receive and that is that your child has been shot," DeAndra Yates said.

"It is hard to believe that someone could shoot my innocent 13-year-old baby, but they did," she said. 

Her son, DeAndre, was shot back in 2014 while going to a party. It was a stray bullet. DeAndre was an innocent bystander. 

Some die, but that pain never passes from the families like the Stewards.

"As we pulled up (Wednesday) to my grandson's great-grandmother's house, he goes, 'My daddy lives over there,'" Mark Steward said. "Crown Hill Cemetery."

Mark's son, Markus, was killed in a shooting in 2015.

There will always be a hole in Ernestine Havvard's heart. Her son Clarence died in a shooting in 2015, too.   

"Depression is a health problem right? So that's what I have," Havvard said, adding that she had to sell her home of 31 years because she couldn't bear live in it any longer.

They remember the lives taken too soon.

Those lucky to survive are transformed. It can be physical. DeAndra Yates said her son is a nonverbal quadriplegic who needs 24-hour care. He no longer lives at home. 

"He lives at a facility because I can no longer care for him," Yates said through tears.

She added that the resolution proposed could help make sure other parents never end up in her shoes. 

There is an emotional impact, too, for survivors of shootings. Havvard's 13-year-old niece experiences that every day now.

"She was shot in the neck just being with friends walking," she said through tears as her niece cried into her chest. "And this is what she has to live with. Afraid to walk with her friends."     

So Wednesday, the City-County Council talked about a call for Indianapolis to declare gun violence a public health danger.

By doing so, city leaders said Indianapolis could open itself up for more grant money at the state and federal level. The city would also have the chance to partner with the Marion County Health Department and community groups with more funding. 

The sponsor of the resolution, Councilor LaKeisha Jackson, said the city now spends $3.2 million directly to combat gun violence. She said this proposal is just a start, not an answer, to the violence that has caused plenty of pain in Indianapolis.

A vote is expected at the next City-County Council meeting Aug. 13.


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