INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis police arrested 56 people this weekend after violence erupted following peaceful protests in the downtown area.
During a press conference Sunday afternoon, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department leadership announced two people were killed and several others injured in shootings Saturday night and Sunday morning. Police arrested 29 people Saturday night and Sunday morning, in addition to 27 on Friday night and Saturday morning.
The Marion County Coroner's Office identified the victims of Saturday night's shootings as Chris Beaty, 38, and Dorian Murrell, 18. Beaty died after he was shot in an alley in the 100 block of East Vermont Street, while Murrell died after being shot at Pennsylvania and East Market Streets.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Joshua Barker said two groups of several hundred people began moving around downtown in the evening and IMPD's purpose was to help the groups move around.
Barker said officers began noticing people on the periphery of the groups loading rocks and other objects into backpacks. Other people carried shields, while some had medical supplies and distributed bottles of milk, which Barker said counteract the effects of chemical agents. Barker also said officers saw an "unsettling number" of people armed with long guns, shotguns and handguns.
After several hours, Barker said the largest group separated into smaller groups of 200-300 people, and one group went to the front of the City-County Building's Market Street entrance.
In front of the City-County Building, officers began observing people donning face and eye protection and removing rocks and frozen water bottles from backpacks.
"It was at that point that we noticed a turn from a protester crowd to a gathering of individuals who were making overt actions to ramp up their efforts to disturb the protest," Barker said.
Barker said people in the crowd parked a vehicle with amber-colored lights at one end of Market Street to block traffic, while others joined arms to form a human chain at the other end of Market Street in an effort to prevent police access.
According to Barker, people moved to the front of the City-County Building and began throwing objects at its windows after which the group started banging and kicking at the windows.
Marion County Sheriff's deputies were stationed inside the entrance in case the building was breached, Barker said. A window on the Market Street side of the building was kicked out.
"This peaceful protest, at this point, turned from protest to riot based on the activities and decisions made by a very violent and aggressive few that splintered off that peaceful group and made the decision to do that attack on the City-County Building," Barker said.
Barker said officers used pepper balls and tear gas on the crowd after people began throwing rocks and firecrackers at police.
"Once there was an initial interaction in front of the City-County Building, that triggered multiple locations of violent unrest to spin off almost simultaneously," Barker said.
Over the course of the evening, Barker said the situation continued to devolve and two homicides and several non-fatal shootings took place.
Barker said multiple fires were set downtown and many businesses were damaged. The city does not yet have an accurate count on how many buildings were vandalized, but it is "extremely extensive."
"We responded to numerous calls for looting, vandalism and quite a number of fires that were being set in the downtown area," Barker said.
Barker said some firefighters and EMS personnel had objects thrown at them when police were not able to respond quickly to provide security protection.
Order was finally restored downtown at 4 a.m., according to Barker.