News and Headlines


Amanda Blackburn & Lamont Reed's murders share an anniversary, but not the spotlight

Posted at 8:04 PM, Nov 10, 2016

Editor's Note: Sr. Digital Reporter Jordan Fischer has been covering crime in Indianapolis for the past three years. They've been three of the city's deadliest in history. On the anniversary of one of 2015's most high-profile homicides – and one of its least – he reflects on how both stories were reported.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of two murders in Indianapolis.

One you've probably heard about: Amanda Blackburn, the 28-year-old mother who'd just started a new ministry with her pastor husband, who was pregnant with her second child and who was home alone with her first when three men broke in early in the morning of Nov. 10, 2015. They assaulted, robbed and shot her – ultimately fatally.

Just hours before those men came to the Blackburn home, on the opposite side of town, 44-year-old Tony Lamont Reed was also shot and killed as he stood on his porch. His girlfriend told police a homeless man she knew as "Santos" had fired the shots.

This might be the first you're hearing about it.

I suspect that because up until today, I didn't know Mr. Reed's name. And I'm RTV6's crime reporter. The line in our homicide database hadn't been updated since that day. For the victim's name, it still read "unknown." As far as I can tell, that's true for all of the stories written about the shooting.

In contrast to Amanda Blackburn's murder – which garnered weeks of wall-to-wall media interest across the country – the story we wrote about Lamont Reed's death is so short I can excerpt it in its entirety right here:

A man was shot and taken to the hospital, where he later died Tuesday morning.

The shooting happened in the 3100 block of E. Washington Street around 3:30 a.m. Police say the ordeal began with a dispute inside a house. The fight spilled onto the porch when a woman walked off and returned with the suspected gunman.

That man shot another man involved in the fight, before running away.

The victim was taken to Eskenazi Health in critical condition, where he died from the wounds.

Neither the victim nor the suspect has been identified by police.


That's it: There was a fight. A man was shot. He died.

<figcaption>Above: Davey, Weston and Amanda Blackburn (photo provided by family)

It's not surprising that Blackburn's murder received more attention in the media. It scared people. As it unfolded, we knew very little, except that one or more men had gone to a relatively crime-free neighborhood on the northwest side, broken into a home – seemingly at random – and then killed a young mother while her infant child sat in the next room.

After the news broke, female friends approached me and quietly asked if they were safe. We received calls and emails to the station every day asking where the updates in the case were.

When police finally announced they had made arrests, it seemed as if the whole city breathed a sigh of relief.

And while all that was going on, IMPD's homicide detectives worked Reed's case, made an arrest and then moved on to the next victim of what would end as the city's deadliest year on record.

<figcaption>Click to view the 2016 Indianapolis Homicide Map.

How do we end up with such different coverage of two killings that happened on the same day? For me – a reporter with a homicide spreadsheet, a reporter who's written about hundreds of murders over the past few years (125 just this year, as of this writing) – the arithmetic of it all can seem callously simple.

Amanda Blackburn's murder happened in a part of the city where murders don't happen. It happened to a victim in a demographic at by far the lowest risk of being killed. Last year, only 10 of the city's 145 homicide victims were white women. That's just under 7 percent. By contrast, black men – and Lamont Reed was a black man – made up just over 60 percent of all last year's homicides.  

And Lamont Reed's murder happened on the eastside – a place where shootings are so common that when we post a breaking news story about one, commenters respond with a mixture of indifference and disdain. You're welcome to examine our Facebook page if you're skeptical.

But Lamont Reed was also a father of four. He was a construction worker, and an organ donor. He was, as of the age of 32, a born-again Christian and member of the 25th Street Baptist Church. He was a citizen of Indianapolis.

He was our neighbor, and he lost his life to violence.

But Lamont Reed was also a father of four. He was a construction worker, and an organ donor. He was, as of the age of 32, a born-again Christian.

Lamont Reed's death has resulted in something that can't be taken for granted when a black man is killed: an arrest. While Indianapolis homicide detectives do eventually bring most cases to a close, those that remain open most often have victims that are black and male. Of the approximately 74 homicide cases from this year that remain unsolved, 48 of the victims – 65 percent – are black men.

The reasons for that are myriad, and outside the scope of this piece.

Back to the case at hand: Two days after Lamont Reed's death, police arrested 39-year-old Santos Pruett on a charge of murder in his shooting. According to court documents, Pruett's girlfriend Angela – who had been hanging out with Pruett, Reed and Reed's girlfriend – became loud and unruly. When Reed tried to make her leave, she exhorted Pruett to shoot him.

<figcaption>Click to see 2016's homicides mapped by neighborhood.

According to witness testimony, that's just what he did – pulling a handgun and firing four shots at Reed. Three of them struck Reed – two in the front and one in the back. The fourth went through the house and whizzed over the head of Reed's girlfriend's school-aged son, who was inside asleep.

Santos Pruett remains in custody at the Marion County Jail and is scheduled to go on trial in February 2017.

The three suspects charged in Amanda Blackburn's murder – Diano Gordon, Jalen Watson and Larry Taylor – also await trial on multiple charges from the alleged eight-day crime spree her death was a part of. The first trial, Watson's, is scheduled to begin March 20, 2017.

More than 70 homicides remain unsolved from this year alone in Indianapolis. If you have any information about a case, you're urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS. Calls may be made anonymously.