'Skipping suspect' arrested in convenience store clerk murder

Video surveillance of suspect
Indianapolis Metro Police announced Thursday an arrest in the June murder of a convenience store clerk.

IMPD confirmed the arrest last night of 22-year-old Desi Thomas of Indianapolis for the murder of Harry Briggs. Thomas is accused of killing Briggs while robbing Joe's Junction on W. Troy Ave. on June 4, 2014. IMPD Chief Rick Hite announced the arrest at a news conference Thursday.

Police say Thomas shot Briggs unprovoked during the robbery. Briggs died a few days later. Thomas was seen on surveillance video skipping away from the scene immediately following the robbery and shooting.

Detectives say they received a number of tips from the community, and credit the tipsters with providing information that eventually led to the successful identification and eventual arrest of the suspect.

Thomas was arrested Wednesday afternoon at 3307 Maumee Court with the assistance of the IMPD SWAT Team, Violent Crimes Unit, and the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force. He faces formal charges of Felony Murder, Murder (Class A Felony) and Robbery (Class A Felony).

After nearly six weeks, the victim's family, co-workers, and customers finally have some relief.

"It's hard for me to come up here and confront this situation," said James Carter as he pumped gas outside Joe's Junction convenience store on West Troy Avenue.

Just seeing the store where Carter witnessed his co-worker Harry Briggs murdered by a robbery suspect, caused a physical reaction Carter couldn't help.

"I wasn't shaking that bad until I just now walked in there," said Carter, holding up his trembling hand.

Even with Wednesday's news that police arrested Thomas for shooting and killing Briggs last month, there was little physical relief to Carter.

"It feels really good that he's caught, but I still have the shaking inside," he explained.

Carter said he hopes Thomas' day in court will help that.

"I can't wait to get this man put away. I cannot wait," said Carter.

Store surveillance video from the night of the shooting is part of the reason why Carter said he wants justice so badly for his friend and co-worker. On the video, you could see the suspect, who police believe is Thomas, skipping away just moments after shooting Briggs and robbing the store.

"He didn't even have any remorse to skip out of here like that is no remorse for a life. Harry was a wonderful man and it don't matter if it was Harry or not. Any person. To skip away out of here, to be happy cause you killed somebody over a couple hundred dollars, is disgusting," said Carter.

For Briggs' other co-workers still working at the store, where Briggs picture still hangs next to the register, the news was a relief.

"Just because this is all over, doesn't mean the pictures are going to come down," said store clerk Charles Groover.

Even customers celebrated the arrest.

"There's justice for Harry," said one woman, hugging Groover.Briggs' former roommate and co-worker also expressed his anger over the shooting, but he also shared a wonderful memory about his friend.

"Heck, if you come up to the store and you're 50 cents short, 75 cents short, he'd give it to you," said Randy Newkirk.

It was a moment of reckoning people said they had been waiting for, saying it was the image of the suspect skipping away, they just couldn't forget.

"The way he skips away," said customer Rick Harmon, shaking his head. "I think he felt like he was in a Mary Poppins movie, you know. If a life doesn't mean anymore than that to you, then you shouldn't be in a society."

"He did what he did. He's gotta pay for what he did. I don't think the guy realizes how many people's lives he affected," Newkirk said.

James Carter said if he has his way, the only society Briggs' alleged killer will be part of in the future will be the one in prison.

"He ain't skipping now," said Carter.