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Family of 13-year-old murder victim shares message to people choosing violence

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Posted at 11:26 PM, Nov 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-16 23:26:29-05

INDIANAPOLIS — A boarded up door, bullet holes and washed away blood stains are left behind at an apartment complex on Indy's east side.

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It's not the only thing left behind — the family of 13-year-old Dayon Lyles is left grieving.

Dayon is the teen police say was shot and killed Wednesday night at an apartment complex off 38th Street and North Sherman Drive.

Police say they don't think he was the intended target of gunfire that broke out after an argument between two groups.


Dayon's family is now trying to understand what happened and grapple with the reality that the 7th grader won't be coming home.

His mother, Deshawna Lyles, calls its a nightmare she won't ever get to wake up from.

"It doesn't seem real. I just wish I could wake up from it. Pinch me twice. Just get up and be like 'Man that was a crazy scary dream,' but this is my reality, this is my life. I have to wake up every day and face it," Lyles said.

The mother stands outside their apartment. Just a few feet away from where her son was shot. It's a place she says will never feel the same again.

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"I kind of beat myself up because I wish I would have said come in the house," she said.

Lyles tells WRTV's Kaitlyn Kendall her son was hanging out with friends before being shot.

"To be in my room and just hear all those gunshots fire off like that," Lyles said.

It's a sound Lyles says she knew was bad the second she heard it.

"I felt like something was wrong, it's hard to describe it," she said. "Anything can happen at any given time. He's in a better place now."

It's a reality that's hard for Dayon's mother to understand. She describes the moment she ran to her son's side as he laid on the sidewalk shot.

"He was gasping up for air. I just didn't want to admit it like my son is gone," Lyles said.


Dayon's cousin says he'll remember the kindness he brought to the world.

"That's the only thing I can think about now is I'm never going to see that smile again," Deanthony Patterson said.

Patterson says Dayon's death is a stark reminder of the issues Indiana is facing far too often.

It's a reality that more families of children across Indy have ever faced.

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"It's out of control, it needs to stop. When are y'all going to be tired of of burying our children? Because it was her child today, but it's somebody else's child tomorrow or the next day," Dayon's cousin, Tamara Woods, said.

Woods says she used to live in Indianapolis, but the violence got too bad.

She says far too many people are being killed, and in particular, kids.

"You can think that [shooting] is going to solve the problem, but in a blink of an eye it can create a worse problem for somebody else," Woods said. "You have to think about those people's lives and their loved ones. At the end of the day, taking them away from here is not going to solve whatever problem you thought that you had."

It's the issue of violence that community activists have worked tirelessly to stop.

Both Reverend Charles Harrison and Reverend Malachi Walker head groups that focus on preventing crime in areas across the city.

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They both feel frustrated at where the community stands.

"There is just something wrong," Harrison said. "It's now time for action. It's now time for accountability. We have a problem and everybody has to say enough is enough."

Walker agrees with Harrison. Thursday afternoon he was walking the neighborhood that Dayon was killed in .

He says he is trying to recruit young men in these neighborhoods to help keep them away from violence.

His goal is to show kids there are other options out there than violence. But adds it takes an entire community to be on board.

"We as citizens and whatever community that you live in should be involved," Walker said.

It's violence that everyone wants to see stop.

"Put the guns down, think twice," Lyles said. "Stop being punks, stop using these guns, stop thinking guns is the only way to solve a problem."

This year there have been 24 homicides victims under the age of 18 in Indianapolis.

20 of those have been by a gun.

NOTE: This data is subject to change. This report was made on Nov. 16, 2023 @ 5:00 p.m.

That is more than Indianapolis has ever seen, since data has been tracked.

The office of public health and safety is a group that works to address root causes of crime and reduce violence in Indianapolis.

The agency says they are working to find ways to better prevent the issue of violence.

Tony Lopez, the director of violence reduction for OPHS, said the growing problem of gun violence is alarming.

"This is a public health crisis, a public health epidemic. Gun violence is a public health crisis. That is why our office is working hard to try to figure out how to curb gun violence. We're doing a great job, but we're not done and there is still way too much work that we need to do with it," Lopez said.

Lopez said after a homicide their group goes to the scene and talks to people who were impacted in an effort to prevent retaliation.

Tax payer dollars and OPHS grants go to several organizations trying to put an end to the violence. One of those programs is called "New B.O.Y."

It stands for New Breed of Youth. Their mission is to help instill a new sense of self awareness and life direction in each young man.

Over the summer, New B.O.Y held a sports leadership camp. Founder Kareem Hines says his goal is to help slow the rate of violence we are seeing.

"We are in some dire times in our city," Hines said. "We want to let them know that there is another way for them to make money and obtain success."