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Parents whose son was murdered last year talk about the latest spike in violent crime in Indianapolis

John Shockley was shot and killed in his car at an east Indianapolis McDonald's last August.

INDIANAPOLIS — Every time Steve and Cheryl Shockley hear about another shooting in the city of Indianapolis, they’re taken back to a day last August, when a phone call changed their lives forever.

“You hear the words, ‘We’re looking for the next of kin of John Shockley.’ You hear the words ‘next of kin’ and it’s like, it just knocks you over,” Steve said, sitting next to his wife Tuesday in their Indianapolis home. 

Almost a year later, though, the Shockleys have regained their footing, for moments like the one that happened at Monday night’s City-County Council meeting. 

“My son, Jack Shockley, was murdered on August 12, 2020. He was sitting in his car eating breakfast at McDonald’s at 25th and Emerson,” Cheryl Shockley told the council, right before the group approved a proposal to give more money to police and community programs, in an effort to stave off a spike in violent crime in the city. 

Credit: Shockley Family
Jack Shockley was shot and killed on August 12, 2020.

“Everyone has a part to play to end gun violence,” said Cheryl. 

“Until everybody makes it their problem, we’re going to have a real hard time solving this,” Steve added. 

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The Shockleys are trying to do their part. They’ve started the Jack Shockley Warriors for Peace Foundation, which gives scholarships to students who want to promote peace, while attending a Catholic high school. 

“We can help save one life at a time,” said Steve. 

These grieving parents also believe the people pulling the trigger need help early on, so they don’t get to that point. 

“They’re victims in their own right,” said Cheryl. “What shot have they had in life? My son, Jack Shockley, would be the first one to say that. What shot have they had in this life? Not much, and we need to care about them."

Police say they arrested and charged a suspect for Jack’s murder, but say a key witness in the case died a few months later in an unrelated homicide. 

RELATED: Community leader focuses on changing young minds as violence surges

Court records indicate the charges filed against the suspect were later dropped. Still, police say the case is an active investigation.

“We have strong hopes that the prosecutor’s office will come through for our family and refile charges,” said Cheryl. 

In the meantime, “I pray for the young man who killed my son every day,” Cheryl added. 

Always close to the Shockleys, carrying them forward, are the words on a medal they found in Jack’s belongings after he was killed. 

“It says, ‘Memento mori’ on one side, which means, ‘remember that you will die.’ On the other side, it says, ‘Memento vivere,’ which means, ‘remember to live,” Steve said. 

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