Eastside church grapples with violence response after double murder
INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis’ 2023 homicide tally is far outpacing last year’s running total of killings on this date.
As of this afternoon, IMPD had investigated 73 homicides this year, compared to 62 on April 23, 2022, and 77 on this date in 2021 when Indianapolis’ homicide total hit an annual record.
”It feels like it’s getting worse,” said Damon Keough after the congregation of the Brookside Community Church took a prayer walk through its neighborhood Sunday. ”You can’t have a ball come into someone’s yard and somebody shoot you, it’s everywhere all at once, it’s not just in Brookside, it’s a national situation.”
Three people were murdered over the course of eight hours in two separate shootings within a half mile of the eastside this weekend.
The city’s 2023 homicide stats are chasing 2021’s record despite unprecedented spending on community anti-violence programs and enhanced IMPD technology and refined gun violence reduction strategies.
”I have been in this community eight years now and there’s been no change,” said Roy Halbert.
Church parishioners prayed in the front yard of 3525 South Brookside Parkway Dr. where two women were shot to death and a teen was wounded on April 14th in what may have been a home invasion.
Bouquets of flowers were left on the porch steps of the double residence.
”Church isn’t meant to be behind four doors,” said Robert Blondet. “It’s meant to come from behind the four doors and that’s what we did today.”
Frustrated churchgoers said they turn to the bedrock of their beliefs for a path forward while taking aim at the leaders who write the laws that govern civil society.
”People are gonna be people and they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do,” said Blondet. ”We’re all responsible ultimately, we all have to take accountability.”
”The government itself is really to blame,” said Halbert. ”I think the law is bad where they have changed it to where you don’t have to have a permit and so it’s a lot of people walking around here with guns that are illegal in their back pockets. It’s scary to see a young person with a gun that he doesn’t even have his mind straight on what he’s going to do tomorrow and he’s walking around with a gun in his back pocket.”
Parishioners said recent actions taken by the General Assembly to enhance the constitutional rights of Hoosiers to carry firearms have left them feeling less safe.
”I blame the legislators, the ones who are passing the bills, because the bills that got passed recently, crime went up a lot more. The murders went up more. Until we get that solved, we’re gonna keep having these problems in the streets,” said Coi Taylor. ”I would buy all the guns back from all these. That’s’ what I would do. Destroy all of them.”
Being people of faith, it’s natural that the congregants remain optimistic despite the darkness metaphorically setting in over their community.
”There’s a lack of hope, there’s an abundance of despair,” said Keough. ”I don’t wanna leave with this saying that all is lost because there is hope and I think the lie is that there is no hope but the truth is that there is hope.”
Last week IMPD detectives arrested two persons on gun charges who were also wanted for questioning regarding the Brookside double killing.
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