Heartbroken over the senseless deaths of their sons and enraged at people who refuse to help bring the killer to justice, Kendra Tate and Dana Croom are a couple of moms who’ve had enough.
“When a policeman shoots a person of color, there's riots and everybody's upset,” Tate said. “But it's happening in our own communities, nobody's saying anything. They're allowing these thugs to just like take over their community. Nobody's saying anything.”
Tate and Croom say their sons Eric Colvin Jr. and Justice Wills were “assassinated” on the night of June 28 in the parking lot of an apartment complex a couple blocks north of Warren Central High School on the far east side.
They believe someone knows who did it. And these moms are angry that no one is talking to police.
“Just put yourself in our position just even for a second because I would never want any other mother to ever have to endure the agony that it is to lose your child,” Croom said.
Croom’s son Wills, 22, liked to sing to his family and post videos of himself on social media. He was always cracking jokes and always looking to help others.
“He was very kind-hearted,” Croom said. “He never met a stranger and that was part of the problem with him. He never really could see danger in any situation or in anyone that he ever met.”
Wills had overcome some difficulties in life including dropping out of high school, his mother said. He was settling down, looking toward building a better future and had recently landed a job at a warehouse, Croom said.
“He was really proud of himself,” Croom said. “He was really looking forward to starting a long-term career there.”
Colvin, 18, went by the nickname “EJ’ and had always been a daredevil, his mother said.
As a child, Tate said Colvin would gather up his four siblings to take turns riding a clothes basket down a flight of stairs.
At age two, Colvin put the family’s van in gear and rolled it up against the door of a barbershop. No one got hurt, but people were trapped inside the shop for short time.
“He was just my boy, you know,” Tate said. “He just loved his mom and I loved him.”
Colvin was still a minor when he told his mother he really wanted a tattoo but needed her permission. Hoping to redirect him, Tate told him the only tattoo she approve was her name. Colvin called her bluff and got "Kendra" inked on his right arm.
Colvin had been fighting an opioid addiction for several years, Tate said.
“He was trying to get himself together and we have found a program down at (IU Health) Methodist Hospital,” Tate said.
She said Colvin started going to drug rehabilitation meetings before he died.
“He was really trying to turn his life around and get off of the pills,” Tate said. “He really was.”
According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Colvin and Wills were in a car when someone shot them to death about 11:30 p.m. June 28 in an apartment complex in the 9800 block of Woodsmall Drive.
Their mothers told WRTV that text messages exchanged between the two showed that Wills gave Colvin a ride to meet someone in exchange for $20 in gas money.
Wills drove his Ford Taurus into the complex and stopped briefly before both were shot.
Wills’ foot came off the brake. The car rolled forward, struck a light post and stopped. That's where police found their bodies.
No one has been arrested in connection with the killings. IMPD Homicide Detective Larry Craciunoiu told WRTV he is following up on leads and the case remains under investigation.
The moms don’t know why their sons went to the apartment complex that night. Did one of the victims owe someone money? Did someone there owe one of them money? Was Colvin meeting a drug dealer?
“Even if he was doing those things that didn't give someone the right to take his life, or his friend's life,” Tate said. “What gives someone the right to do that? Who are they to judge what he was doing? Just because someone has an addiction or are doing things doesn't mean they deserve to die, you know.”
Someone knows who pulled that trigger; and it’s time for that person to tell what happened, the moms said.
“I hope that someone finds it in their heart to come forward and give any information that they may have to help not only myself but Eric's mom,” Croom said. “And bring this case to a resolution, and find the person or persons that did this to our sons.”
The city is experiencing another record-setting year for the number of homicides. More than 200 people have died by homicide in Indianapolis so far this year; 66 victims were, like Colvin and Wills, between the ages of 18 and 24.
IMPD has solved 77 homicides that happened in 2021.
"It's time to stop 'snitches get stitches,'" Tate said. "Or you're going to be sitting in this chair having this conversation with (a WRTV reporter) like I am about your child."
Tate recalled the thousands who marched the streets of Indianapolis in the summer of 2020 to protest the police killings of Black men and women in Indianapolis and across the country. She is calling on her neighbors to be just as outraged over the other killings that happen far too often in our neighborhoods.
“We have to come together in the same way as when an officer shoots a person of color,” Tate said. “We don't need to be afraid. What can one person do to the many of us, you know? If everybody just works together and starts saying something, we can tackle this murder thing.”
The tragic toll: These are the people we've lost to violence in 2021
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @vicryc.