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Woman shot, killed near downtown canal was mother with ‘great heart’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The woman who was shot and killed near the Central Canal downtown over the weekend was a devoted mother in the nursing field.

Her name was Jessica Whitaker. She was 24 years old.

Friends and former coworkers on Monday told News 8 that Whitaker had a “great heart” and cared about other people. They also described her as fun, loving and kindhearted.

It seems fitting that she was in the nursing field and worked as a certified nursing assistant.

But, they said, her young son was her pride and joy.

Police got the call just before 3:30 a.m. Sunday of a person shot. Officers found Whitaker and rushed her to the hospital in critical condition. She died at the hospital a few hours later.

Samantha Pauli lives in the Gardens of Canal Court, which overlooks the canal near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and West St. Clair streets.

She said a friend heard what they thought was a loud firework on Sunday morning, only later to realize it may have been a gunshot.

She woke up Sunday morning to see the crime scene tape on the canal. It wasn’t until later in the day she found out a woman had been shot and killed.

She said it doesn’t really change her behavior.

But ,she adds, even with the recent shootings, it doesn’t really change her behavior because as the sun goes down, she stays inside.

“Not really, it doesn’t really,” Pauli said. “I’m going to stay positive going forward because things can happen. I know six days ago a kid got shot robbing a woman, so I know that happened. I just know not to go out at night. I’m not going to go out at night at all.”

News 8 reached out again to police Monday. They’re not releasing any additional information including details like what may have led up to the shooting or a possible motive.

Anyone with information can reach out to the homicide office of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at 317-327-3475 or leave a tip anonymously with Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-8477.

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