‘We are invested in this community’: How one church works to heal Indy’s east side

INDIANAPOLIS — Two separate shootings each left a man dead on opposite ends of Indianapolis Saturday morning. Just four minutes after gunfire was heard on the Circle City’s northwest side, shots rang out on the east side.

Around 1:32 a.m., IMPD reported a man was taken from a northwest side liquor store to the hospital, where he died after being shot. Four minutes later, a man was shot and killed on the east side.

FOX59 and CBS4 spoke with a woman who asked to remain anonymous. She lives down the street from the scene of the east side shooting.

“Had my car broken into trying to be stolen twice,” she said. “There’s bullets you can hear being fired every weekend.”

FOX59 and CBS4 have reported that the east side shooting took place in an area with a disproportionate number of killings every year. Nearby pastor Reginald Fletcher hasn’t given up on his neighborhood.

“We’re not a church in the community, but we’re a church of the community,” Fletcher said.

Living Word Baptist Church has proudly opened its doors on 21st Street for three decades. While Fletcher doesn’t believe east side crime has necessarily increased over those years, he said it has “intensified.”

“A few years ago, we discovered a body across the street from the church in the alleyway,” Fletcher said. “Just a couple of months ago, there was a shooting right down the street here on Kildare.”

Fletcher chooses to confront the issue his community faces head-on, knocking on doors to ask people about their concerns and needs.

“And, just simply, being able to share with them that there is a beacon of hope of some sort here on the corner,” Fletcher said of the goal he has in mind when he knocks on east side doors.

Through those conversations, Fletcher said he’s identified apathy and hopelessness as root causes of violence on the east side.

“People not believing there is a way out,” Fletcher said. “Nobody (is) actually addressing the needs of the people in our neighborhood.”

Fletcher wants to start healing the east side’s streets by partnering with groups like the neighborhood association and health department to bring resources directly to those who need them, regardless of their religious affiliations. His latest project is building an affordable apartment complex for low-income members of the community and veterans without homes.

“We’re trying to do things that are outside-of-the-box,” Fletcher said.

Both of the shootings that occurred early Saturday morning are still under investigation. IMPD reported that there were witnesses at both scenes. The names of the two victims have yet to be released.

Comments are closed.