Broad Ripple shooting prompts public outcry to stop violence
The message on the marquee of the Vogue sums it up best after Saturday morning's shooting in Broad Ripple that left seven injured: "Stop the violence."
Indianapolis Metro Police Chief Rick Hite's message is similar: Guns and shooting each other are not the way to solve conflicts.
But according to investigators, that's just how at least two people with guns decided to solve a problem they had with each other outside the clubs on Broad Ripple Ave. at around 2:30 am Saturday. They opened fire because someone bumped into someone else while waiting in line trying to get into the clubs. The gunfire shattered the light-hearted mood on Independence Day weekend and sent party-goers into a panic.
Right now, police have no suspects but one person of interest, 23-year-old Lawrence Jones, a convicted felon, was arrested for having a handgun without a license. So far, Jones has not been arrested in connection with the shooting. Officers arrested him after they spotted him running from the scene.
Police say all seven victims were innocent bystanders. One of them remains in critical condition.
The city is looking at different options to prevent a repeat of what happened Friday night, like possibly closing off certain streets to allow more breathing room for the crowds Broad Ripple draws on the weekend.
"We're asking business owners to meet with us to have a discussion about what it is you want to see in the terms of civility and policies in this area. We're going to change some things in Broad Ripple. We're going to change some things in this city, but we have to do it together," said Chief Hite.
"A third of our homicides this year have been because of arguments. A third," said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. "Think about what happened last night. Two individuals bump into each other - it appears, preliminary reports - a fight ensues. Both were carrying weapons. And then a shooting occurs and innocent people nearby are struck and injured. That's devastating for us as a police department, devastating for us as a community but we have to do better as the City of Indianapolis. That's why we've asked for people to invest in social programs, to work on our social programs, and also to tell people as well when you're out in the community and you have someone who may be hot-headed, sometimes it's best just to walk away and call the police."
Riggs called for mandatory minimum sentencing for those who use a gun in a violent crime, referring to Jones.
Riggs also praised IMPD, saying they performed extremely well as they calmed the scene and kept bystanders away. Over 65 IMPD personnel responded to the shooting scene early Saturday.
Police say that of the people who were on the sidewalk when the shooting took place, so many of them ran for their lives, darting in and out of alleyways, that they didn't get a chance to talk to witnesses with specific details to lead them to clues in this case - a situation witnesses we spoke with simply describe as chaotic.
"I heard more screams from people than anything else," said Andrew Garnes, witness.
"There was just people like panicking to get out of here," said Bradley Knight.
Witnesses describe a packed area near the 700 block of Broad Ripple Avenue with a large crowd waiting to get into nearby clubs.
"The first thing we noticed were people running around the corner with panic in their eyes. Some people crying," said Kobi Pearson.
"I did not see any suspects. It was just like the streets were so crowded," said Brendon Cammack.
As the crowd left and the sun rose, detectives remained on the scene with numerous evidence markers. Seven hours later, the street reopened - including some businesses in the crime scene area.
"When you're just out in a place like Broad Ripple, you feel safe and you're out drinking with your friends. You don't want to have to worry about safety and walking around and people shooting you," said Andile Ndlovu.