Prosecutors announced charges against an Indianapolis man for what they called a "four-day, one-man purge."
Johnathan Cruz is accused of murdering three people on the east side of Indianapolis. He also allegedly took part in the robbery of two people at East 10th Street and Linwood Avenue May 14.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced the charges at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
"Just when you think you can't experience anything more inexplicable and shocking as we frequently do, you are then confronted with circumstances that almost leave you at a loss for words," Curry said.
Cruz is accused of the May 12 murders of Billy Boyd, who was found shot to death near 39th and College, and Jay Higginbotham, who was fatally shot in the 900 block of North Denny Street.
On May 15, Curry says Cruz shot Jose Ruiz to death in a vehicle near Washington and Linwood.
Curry says Cruz "went on a four-day, one-man purge," making comments to others and on social media about "purging."
"The Purge" was a 2013 movie about one day a year when anyone gets to gun down anyone else without legal consequences. But here there will be consequences, prosecutors say.
On Linwood Avenue, where two crimes happened, including one of the murders, neighbor Debbie Waterford says, "We just haven't heard anything else about what's going on."
When we told her Cruz was arrested she and other neighbors felt relieved.
"I think it's great," said landlord Nina Sutton and tenant Mariah Thayer. "They're coming down, finding the people and taking care of it makes people feel safer."
"Oh yeah, this is a real high crime area," said landlord Jeff Ayers.
It started the early morning of May 12. Billy Boyd was found murdered in the street at 39th and College. Three hours later, victim Jay Higginbotham was found gunned down in the 900 block of Denny.
Court papers say two men in a car stopped near Higginbotham, who was walking. One said, "Let's bump." When the victim tried to leave to avoid a fight, Cruz allegedly shot him, then went through his pockets and shouted a racial slur before driving off.
Then three days later, the third murder. Jose Ruiz was shot death in his car at Washington and Linwood.
But this time police struck gold, thanks to an informant.
In court papers, the informant told police Cruz was their drug dealer. He allegedly told them "about shooting and robbing several people." Cruz claimed he had been "purging."
Police would later find text messages between Cruz and his girlfriend, allegedly saying "you better go on Facebook and watch the videos of me shooting people. I purge every night now. Since I am dying, someone else has to."
The night of the first murder, Cruz allegedly messaged someone that he needed more bullets.
"Cause I got to go out here and rob somebody or something tonight, bro," he wrote.
Minutes after the shooting, he allegedly messaged he'd just "popped" someone for no reason.
"He didn't have nothing in his pockets," Cruz wrote.
IMPD Chief Troy Riggs tweeted the arrest was possible because of the public speaking up.
Cruz had been arrested on May 16 in a separate investigation. He was charged with criminal confinement, kidnapping, intimidation, and battery. He has been held since his arrest on a $200,000 bond.
He is facing 17 total charges, including the three murder charges, attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, two counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, armed robbery, intimidation, and two counts of pointing a firearm.
Prosecutors also filed a criminal gang enhancement with the charges, which could double Cruz's sentence if he is convicted.
A second man, Steven Clark (who is also known as Rayvaugh Wood), was charged with armed robbery for his alleged role in the May 14 robbery for which Cruz has been charged.
Cruz will appear in court Thursday.