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On the streets of Indy's deadliest neighborhood

Posted at 5:20 PM, Oct 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-01 17:20:19-04

As of the beginning of October, 101 people have been murdered in Indianapolis – but the toll of violence hasn't been paid equally by all parts of the city.

In City-County Council District 3, which runs from 52nd Street to 96th Street and includes the neighborhoods of Ravenswood and Meridian Hills, no murders have been reported this year.

A few blocks west, however, District 8 has seen 15 homicides in 2015 – making it the deadliest district in the city.

A father of four who lives in the area said he's scared for his children. And, he's scared for himself, which is why he asked not to be identified by name.

"I can't let them stay outside all day out of fear of what might happen randomly," he said. "It's got to stop, man. It's crazy. There's no reason to really be killing people."

WATCH: "The only thing we can do is hold onto our kids, love them every day and hope they will come back in the door."

District 8 is represented by Councilor Monroe Gray, Jr. He says the relative tranquility of years past is long gone.

"I think maybe some of the guys who were incarcerated before are now back on the street, and they're taking up where they left off," Gray said.

MAP | 2015 Indianapolis Homicides

The councilor is pushing for longer jail sentences for select crimes – a push he plans to make at the Statehouse.

But, with many of the city's murders involving those in their teens or 20s, he says the best way to fight back is by adding jobs.

"We need to find some kind of way that we can produce jobs for the young people in that age group so we can give them something to do," Gray said.

Breaking it down

Even within District 8 there are major disparities in violence.

The district includes The Indianapolis Museum of Art, Butler University and parts of the Crows Nest and Meridian-Kessler neighborhoods. Most of the census tracts that fall within District 8 haven't had a single homicide all year.

On the south side of District 8, though, Census Tract 3905 – the neighborhood bounded by Dr. Martin Luther King Kr. Street on the east and the White River on the west, and 38th Street and 30th Street on the north and south – has had six homicides this year.

Just east of Crown Hill Cemetery, Census Tract 3503 has also had six.

Those neighborhoods have major differences from Meridian-Kessler and Crows Nest, despite all claiming Gray as their councilor.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows an estimated 40 percent of households in the MLK-White River neighborhood fall below the poverty line. Of the estimated 547 family households in the neighborhood, nearly 70 percent are single-parent.

Citywide, 18.9 percent of Indianapolis residents fall under the poverty line.

The trend seen in District 8 repeats itself across the city. Nearly 90 percent of census tracts in Indianapolis have had 1 or fewer murders this year. Just over 75 percent haven't had any.

In fact, of the 101 murders so far this year, 63 have happened in just 24 neighborhoods – even as neighboring areas haven't seen any.

Back in MLK, our father of four, who says he moved into the area two years ago to escape violence in Chicago, says he hopes leaders like Gray can find an answer.

"I hope it turns into a nice neighborhood," he said. "I wouldn't mind staying here, but the way things are going now, I would like to move by next year."