Indy's deadly 2017 driven in part by dramatic increase in multiple homicides

Posted at 2:10 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-02 14:57:19-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- What drove the latest year of record-setting homicides in Indianapolis? Violence against women, violence by teens and a dramatic increase in the number of multiple homicides.

For the third year in a row, Indianapolis set a new homicide record in 2017 with 154 criminal homicides for the year – topping the previous year’s record of 149.

In 2016, Indianapolis saw the lowest homicide increase, 3.4 percent, of any city its size. While the homicide rate increased by even less in 2017 -- going up by 3.3 percent – Indianapolis fared less well in comparison to other large American cities, which were expected to see a 5.6-percent drop in their average murder rate, according to a report released last month by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Click here or the image below to see the faces of all of 2017's homicide victims:

While the city saw large decreases in homicides in its most troubled neighborhoods from 2016 (the Near Eastside, for example, saw a nearly 60-percent drop in murders), that progress was outweighed by similarly large increases in the number of female homicide victims and an increasing number of murders committed by teens.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN | More women have been killed in Indy than in 2016. And the year before. And the year before. | Nearly 30% of women killed in Indianapolis this year have died at the hands of an intimate partner

TEENS BEHIND, IN FRONT OF GUNS | Guns, gangs and drugs: Number of teens charged with murder doubles since 2016 | In pictures posted to social media, young homicide victims showed off guns, cash | ‘The gun is almost like gold:’ More kids in the crossfire as Indy sees 70% spike in youths with guns

A particularly disturbing part of 2017’s violence was a dramatic increase in the number of multiple homicides – which more than doubled from 2016.

RTV6 defines a multiple homicide as any homicide case with two or more victims. In 2016, there were five multiple homicide incidents for a total of 11 victims.

2016 Multiple Homicides

  • Robert Johnson & Mark Craig on 4/17/16
  • Justin Sims & D’Angelo Brown on 7/2/2016
  • Takara Coleman, Cameron Baker & Lisa Woods on 7/22/2016
  • Mack Taylor & Alexander Brown on 9/14/2016
  • Victoria Valdez & Vincent Grant on 9/22/2016

2017 began with a multiple homicide – the murders of cousins Wesam Sammour and Ammar Shatnawi on Jan. 3, 2017. Those killings were the first of 11 multiple homicide incidents, more than doubling the previous year’s number, the ended with the murders of sisters Meredith Opel and Mallory Jackson on Nov. 24.

In all, 24 people were killed in multiple homicides in 2017, including two triple murders.

2017 Multiple Homicides

  • Wesam Sammour & Ammar Shatnawi on 1/3/2017
  • Brandon Miller & Phillip McBrady on 4/6/2017
  • Darrell Miller II & James Clark on 4/20/2017
  • Angel Mejia-Alfaro & Dijon Anderson on 5/6/2017
  • Jessica Carte, Keith Higgins & Mark Higgins on 6/1/2017
  • Mark Secrest Jr. & John Easley on 7/12/2017
  • Justin Crowder, Dominique Miller & Jordan Wright on 7/16/2017
  • Jonte Williams & Daquan Proctor on 9/10/2017
  • Aliyah Igartua & Martina Webb on 9/30/2017
  • Trevon Harris & Toshika Boler on 11/13/2017
  • Meredith Opel & Mallory Jackson on 11/24/2017

It’s not immediately clear what was behind the drastic rise in multiple homicides. Motive information released by IMPD in the cases links roughly 30 percent of them to drugs. Another 33 percent are believed to have stemmed from arguments – like the one that ended with 51-year-old Eldridge Moore fatally shooting his uncle, Phillip McBrady, and another man in April.

"There are societal issues that we just don't have control over," said IMPD Sgt. Christopher Wilburn. "There are instances where people don't have sound de-escalation techniques or conflict resolution skills."

Six of the 11 multiple homicides in 2017 have been cleared, either due to the arrest or death of the suspects. The remaining open cases include the triple murder of Jessica Carte, Keith Higgins and Mark Higgins on Forsythia Drive in June, and the year’s first murders, the fatal shooting of Wesam Sammour and Ammar Shatnawi, on Jan. 3.

If you have information that could help solve one of these cases, police urge you to contact Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS. Your call may remain anonymous.

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