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'Just a beautiful soul': Families remember loved ones lost to gun violence in Indianapolis

Posted at 8:42 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 08:43:08-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis is heading toward breaking it's homicide record.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday night investigated the city's 244th homicide. There were a total of 245 in all of 2020.

Police officials, city leaders, community groups and families are frustrated and tired of violence in the streets.

"These are people upset with social media posts, feeling disrespected, parking spots, just a variety of reasons why people have decided to pull the trigger, none of which are good and all of which are concerning," said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. "If there's going to be a solution to this problem. It's going to come out of the community and with the community and police working together."

Whether it happened a few months ago or a few years ago, the city's homicide rate can be translated into real pain and heartbreak for Indianapolis families.

"That's my son when he was a baby," Kelly Langford said.

Kelly Langford misses her son, Daionetez Locke, better known to her as Man-Man.

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Daionetez Locke, 21, was a father who died in a shooting Oct. 19, 2019.

Pictures around the house, red cardinals, and other keepsakes keep her going.

"Him being a father, I was starting to see the changes in him and I was loving that I was loving that about him. I miss that about him, plus he misses my cooking," Langford said.

Locke, 21, was found shot to death in his vehicle on Oct. 19, 2019. His family is still waiting for justice in his case.

"That's his oldest son Dawson, he's two. That's his second oldest. He's two, his name is Legacy. And this is Jr. He's one," Langford said as she showed us a picture.

Locke never got to meet his youngest child Jr. He didn't get to embrace fatherhood with his other two who were just 4 and 5 months old when he died.

His mother says his spirit lives on through his babies.

"They are like identical to him so that gives us a joy," she said.

Langford isn't alone in her fight for justice.

"My brother had to watch his son die. It's changed our lives forever. It's not fair," said Bruce Pettis.

Candles burned Wednesday night as family and friends gathered to mourn the loss of 23-year-old Zachary Pettis.

"About four months ago, Zach was senselessly murdered. He was an innocent bystander standing in a crowd when a young man recklessly pulled his gun out and fired into the air and into the crowd shooting Zachary and hitting him in the neck," Bruce Pettis said.

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A vigil was held to honor Zachary Pettis on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

Zachary's uncle, Bruce Pettis, said it happened during a drag race. He says his nephew had his whole life ahead of him.

"He had a beautiful life ahead of him, just a beautiful soul. He found humor in everything. At 23 years old, he had started his own security business and tow truck business just had the world in his hands," said Pettis.

Both families are saddened knowing gun violence continues in Indianapolis.

"The homicide rate is ridiculous right now," Pettis said. "The detectives they are so overwhelmed and my biggest fear is all this death and murder is going to push my nephews case so far back its never going to be completely looked into and someone is going to be found."

The Pettis family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Zachary's murder. Contact Stephen.Smalley@indy.gov or 317-327-3618.

"If you know something out here just call crime stoppers and we understand to a certain extent why you don't want to come forward, just remember this could happen to you and I pray that it doesn't. We want justice for our loved ones and we want the crimes to just stop," Langford said.

The Langford family urges you to call crime stoppers if you have any information in their case or any other crime. That number is 317- 262-8477.