I-Team 8

July 2021 goes down as most violent month in Indianapolis history

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — July was the most violent month in the history of Indianapolis with 32 people murdered, and dozens more have been shot and stabbed. 

On a cold January morning, four adults and an unborn child were murdered inside of their east side home.

In March, a 7-year-old girl along with three of her adult relatives were murdered after an argument.

In another mass shooting in April, eight people were gunned down at a FedEx facility; the suspect committed suicide before police arrived.

Just four months into 2021, the collective soul of the city was in shock. 

Mayor Joe Hogsett said on the day of the FedEx shooting, “We must guard against resignation or even despair. The assumption that this is simply how it must be and that we might as well get used to it.”

As of Wednesday, Indianapolis has had 873 people shot, stabbed or both, with 163 people murdered in Indianapolis in 2021.

Some say enough is enough.

“We have got to act as a community and say to those out there who have no regard for the sanctity of human life ‘There’s no place for you in the city,'” said the Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition of Indianapolis.

The relatives of 12-year-old Day’Shawn Bills, shot this past May while at his grandmother’s house, are among families continuing to feel despair. Ida Davis said, “Just being a kid, that’s all he was doing; just being a kid. I mean, we have no problem with him staying up that time of night. We know he was in the house. We thought he was going to be safe, but it didn’t happen like that. But, we’re going to be OK.”

The murder rate in Indiana’s capitol city has been on the rise since before Hogsett, a Democrat, was sworn into office in 2016. The staffing levels of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department have hovered just below 1,700 sworn officers. The city has a budget for 1,743, and the mayor proposed recently adding another 100.

Morale among the rank and file is historically low, and officers are leaving at an alarming rate. Indiana State Police troopers have been helping patrol downtown.

Rick Synder, leader of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, said, “What we are saying is we are coming to the point and we want the governor to understand and be on standby. We may very well be calling on him to send emergency resources to this city. Our police officers are spent. Our chief of police has acknowledged that we are down at least 100 officers and that was at the beginning of July.”

Though plans for staffing and funding exist, officials stress it will take more. 

Ryan Mears, the Marion County prosecutor, said, “We need to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to build that trust and that relationship between the community and law enforcement so people come forward with information. Of all the nonfatal shootings in Marion County, there is someone out there who knows that happened.”

The Fraternal Order of Police places part of the blame on rise in crime on the courts. Marion County has more than 4,000 people wearing court-ordered GPS monitoring devices. Many are out on bond and awaiting trials; others were sent home on probation. The FOP says an increasing number of suspects and victims of crimes committed in Indianapolis are wearing a GPS device. 

“That is the purpose of GPS monitoring. If there are no restrictions on movement in lieu of custodial detention, who is monitoring GPS trackers and who determines when someone is in violation of the terms of their release. Is it an immediate search that is launched when an offender is found to be out of compliance or in violation of their release?” Synder said. 

Less than a decade ago, IMPD homicide detectives worked from seven to 10 cases a year; this year, homicide detectives are working from seven to 10 cases a month.

According to calculations from the Fraternal Order of Police, the city could see from 275 to 300 homicides this year. 

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