INDIANAPOLIS — Two children and a man are in the hospital Monday night after a gunman opened fire on an east side Fourth of July celebration, according to IMPD.
Police were called just before 7 p.m. to a holiday cookout near East 38th Street and North Arlington Avenue at the Arlington Village strip mall. The police report indicates more than 50 shell casings from multiple guns were found.
"We have initial reason to believe this was an unprovoked attack, that the suspects arrived on the scene and opened fire on a crowd that was having a Fourth of July celebration," said IMPD Capt. Mike Leepper.
IMPD said the person responsible for the shooting "has a lack of compassion for human life" and that officers will leave no stone unturned in bringing those involved to justice.
"They were having a cookout with a bounce house, there were several children present and several adults as well, opened fire into the crowd and then fled the scene," Leepper said.
Police said officers arrived within moments to find an 8-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy who had been shot.
"Both children, when the officers arrived on the scene, the officers began to perform lifesaving efforts and loaded up one of the children into their police vehicle and transported them to where the medics were to expedite them to the hospital," Leepper said.
A third victim, an adult man, was also shot, according to IMPD, and took himself to the hospital, where he's in stable condition.
Both children were in critical condition at the hospital as of Monday night. Police believe they were inside a bounce house when the shooting began.
"With any situation, it's always very unfortunate when we have any person shot in our city, but it cuts deeper when it's a child," Leepper said. "You have two innocent children that are just here trying to enjoy a Fourth of July weekend playing in a bounce house when careless individuals come up and open fire into a crowd with absolutely no regard for human life whatsoever."
The suspect fled the scene after the shooting, according to IMPD.
Officers are collecting information and speaking to witnesses. Leepper said police will be verifying information on the suspect before releasing more information to the public.
But, Leepper said, to find out who shot these innocent children, they need people to come forward with what they know.
"It cuts deep," Leepper said. "And I can assure you, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department and our partners will do everything to hold these people accountable and bring them to justice."
IMPD is calling those people who may know something to contact Crime Stoppers or IMPD directly.
It was during this weekend that 15 Indianapolis churches launched a new campaign, preaching a simple message of nonviolence to young people: "don't lose your cool."
The campaign was the focus of sermons on Sunday. And, through programs planned all summer, it will teach young people how to deescalate conflict and safely deal with anger.
"We'll have kickbacks on Fridays for young people to teach them how to really resolve conflict. We have barbershop talks that are going to take place starting here in the month of July," said Ken Sullivan, Jr., senior pastor at New Direction Church.
When temperatures rise, tempers tend to flare, and Pastor Sullivan sees the cost of it all.
He's had to bury 30 young victims of gun violence — kids as young as 11.
Their pictures and their faces are in an ever-growing folder in his office.
"I began to keep the obituaries, so I have a collection of obituaries just to remind me of the importance of what we do," Sullivan said.
The "Don't Lose Your Cool" sign outside his church right now is more than a slogan: Sullivan said it's a mission encouraging young people to make better choices, to keep them safe.
According to IMPD, 49 children were victims of non-fatal shootings in Indianapolis as of July 1. Eight people under 18 have been killed this year in Indianapolis.
13News was unable to get ahold of any witnesses or family of the victims on Tuesday.