INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A son, a father, and a brother. John Barnett left a huge hole in the community after police say he was shot and killed Saturday night near 34th and Keystone.
Barnett was a key member of the city’s violence reduction team who dedicated his life to stopping violence.
“I’m sorry to his loved ones, but we’re not going to give up,” the Director of the Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety, Lauren Rodriguez, said.
“He was somebody that lived in this community, that served this community, (and) that gave back to this community,” Rodriguez said.
“He made an effort to smile at me, to ask me how I was doing (and) maybe crack a little joke,” the President and CEO of the Indy Public Safety Foundation, Dane Nutty, said.
City officials say Barnett had made it his life’s mission to help reduce crime, but at the age of 45, he died a victim of violence. He was a peacemaker for the city’s office of public health and safety. That means he was an outreach worker, an interrupter, and a life coach.
“His main role was to be out in the community, so that’s what J.B. loved to do. It was what he was great at, and making relationships with the community organizations, with churches, (and) with schools,” Nutty said.
There are around 40 peacemakers in the city. Barnett focused on the Riverside neighborhood where he spent time with the youth and provided safe spaces for them. Friends say he was playing with the kids at Riverside Park the day before he died.
“They had stationary bikes. Seeing him interact (and) seeing the other community members interact is critical because that’s showing the kids that are there that people care about them and they want them to succeed,” Rodriguez said.
The Office of Public Health and Safety and the Indy Public Safety Foundation say they will continue his legacy and find strength in each other.
“It’s extremely painful, and it’s trauma that we’re going through, but I think that’s what I’m in awe of about our staff is they view this as now we have not only we need to do this for the community because it’s the right thing to do, but we need to do this to honor J.B.’s legacy,” Nutty said.
Members of Barnett’s family say, overall, he just wanted to give back to the community.