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'Minor conflict' led to deadly shooting of Whiteland HS student in Greenwood, police chief says

Victim had gone to Whiteland HS for only 4 days before his death
temario mario stokes jr.png
Posted at 12:47 PM, Aug 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-30 07:53:12-04

GREENWOOD — The fatal shooting of a Whiteland Community High School sophomore was caused by a "minor conflict" between him and the young man accused of killing him, Greenwood's police chief now says.

Greenwood Police Chief James Ison said during a Friday news conference that the 18-year-old suspect knew 16-year-old Temario Stokes Jr. and lived in a neighborhood about a mile away from him.

During the conference, Ison called on parents and guardians to teach their children proper conflict resolution skills to prevent similar situations.

"I stand up here asking parents: Please be engaged in your child's world. Know what's going on in their lives. Teach them the value of life and the consequences for their actions. Teach them appropriate conflict resolution and that violence is never the answer," Ison said.

"It's all too often these days that we're seeing our youth resort to pulling a trigger as a result of minor conflicts; not necessarily here in Greenwood — we saw that yesterday — but any time you turn on the news, it seems like it's a pretty common story anymore. That's a problem. We've got to teach our kids that there's other ways to resolve these conflicts,"

Ison also revealed police located the suspect about three hours after the shooting near a cornfield. He was "soaking wet" with dirtied clothes at the time, Ison said.

Greenwood police first responded about 7 a.m. to the intersection of Winterwood and Providence drives in the Summerfield subdivision for a report of a shooting. It was there they found Temario shot several times, lying on the ground.

Responders provided aid to Temario but he was later pronounced dead at the scene.

RELATED | Family and friends gather to remember Whiteland HS student Temario Stokes Jr.

New Breed of Youth, or New B.O.Y, is an Indianapolis organization that empowers youth and focuses on instilling change. Temario, also known as Mario, was a part of the group for about a year.

Kareem Hines with New B.O.Y. says Stokes was a vibrant, magical young man whose mission was to mentor other young men to change their path to go in a positive direction.

"Mario brought a certain energy to our program that was contagious," Hines told WRTV. "He was a leader, he was transformational, he was humble, he was remorseful and he was resilient."

Hines also talked about the impact Stokes had on the program and about the teen he says had a passion for life and created a space for others to be transparent about their situations.

"He received numerous character development awards, most improved awards. So we wanted to use him because if we could prop him up on a pedestal it showed and exemplified to other young people that if he is changing, you can change and it's okay to change," Hines said. We dared Mario to be different and he accepted the challenge."

About three hours after the shooting, officers saw a person later identified as the suspect walking near a cornfield and then into a yard on Declaration Drive. He was then taken into custody on suspicion of murder.

The suspect graduated from Whiteland Community High School just last year. Temario had just transferred there and attended classes for only four days before his death, according to Clark-Pleasant School Corporation Superintendent Patrick Spray.

"Thoughts and prayers are not enough to lift this unimaginable pain upon Temario Stokes' family. To his family, please know we are here for you. We will do what we need to do to try to make your family whole," Spray said.

Spray also thanked Greenwood police and other agencies that assisted in the response Thursday.

Mental health services will be made available to all students and staff at Clark-Pleasant, Spray said.

Police have said Temario was shot at a school bus stop, but his family tells WRTV he was still on his way to the stop when shots rang out.

Ison declined to specify the nature of the conflict that led to the shooting and other details, citing an ongoing investigation.

But he did speak to what he called "an abnormal amount of homicides" this year in Greenwood.

"I think the times we're living in, we're seeing more violence all around the country and it tends to be migrating into the suburbs. Greenwood is still a very safe place. We have a wonderful police department and very dedicated officers," he said. "I don't think there's any concern of rising crime necessarily; just a run of bad luck and chance."

Ison also noted that the Johnson County Prosecutor's Office was reviewing the case and said he expects there to be an update on possible charges as early as next week.

Johnson County Coroner Michael Pruitt said an autopsy had been scheduled for Saturday.

"As a result of yesterday, there's a 16-year-old young man that lost his life, there's a family that's experiencing unimaginable grief because of that loss. But there's also a family that lost an 18-year-old that's now incarcerated for murder. And for what? A minor conflict? It's just not worth it," Ison said.

The full conference can be viewed here.