INDIANAPOLIS — A five-year-old girl shot and wounded in her home. A woman shot and killed near a playground. A man found shot and critically injured in a park. These shootings happened in Indianapolis on Wednesday and add to the growing list of violent and sometimes random acts plaguing the Circle City.
If you happened to be traveling on the city's east side, near New York Street, you may have noticed officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department walking through neighborhoods. It was a rare, but rewarding sight, as Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Chief Randal Taylor joined residents for a public safety walk that afternoon.
"It's an amazing, wonderful feeling," Kevin Pedigo said. "I like to see police officers walking beats."
The initiative that started back in 2017 in an effort to bridge the gap between the community and officers, they hit the pavement, met citizens and asked how they can be of service to better the way of living on the east side.
"At the end of the day, the police need the community help," Mayor Hogsett said.
To date, Indianapolis has had a total of 103 homicides this year. That's more than the amount this same time last year, and double the amount in 2019. On top of that, 12 of those homicides this year are children.
"We're not the ones out shooting people," Chief Taylor explained. "This is unfortunately community members shooting other community members. And we got to find a way to get on top of that."
"Our message, our collective message to the people of the City of Indianapolis is you have an obligation to resolve conflicts in peaceful ways," Hogsett added. "You have an obligation to dissolve disagreements in peaceful and safe ways."
Chief Taylor believes the shooting Wednesday morning that injured a five-year-old was the final straw for the community; he emphasized that he's sick and tired of gun violence.
"Hopefully, the community, which I believe they are, they feel this and I believe they're going to be looking out a little closer as well," Taylor said.
It's a task Pedigo said is long overdue.
"I think that if people spoke up more than they would get a better response out of police and they could do more," Pedigo said.
On Wednesday afternoon, while IMPD officers were at the scene of a shooting near a park on the city's northeast side, an officer shared how the department was feeling as they investigated multiple gun-related crimes.
"Our officers are frustrated. We come prepared day in and day out. When you dial 911, we show up. Our officers will not give up. It breaks your heart," IMPD Public Information Officer William Young, said. "I heard the call come out on the radio and it's a park. I've got family members myself; I've got two goddaughters who like to go to the park so it's frustrating to hear that you can't even be in a park without someone picking up a firearm and firing shots."
Between the public safety walk, which takes place monthly, and investigating crime scenes on Wednesday, IMPD officers can't stress the importance enough of witnesses coming forward with information about crimes.
As of Wednesday, 57 homicides remain unsolved in Indianapolis this year.