INDIANAPOLIS — On Wednesday, dozens of people showed up at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church for a community conversation on gun violence.
DeAndra Dycus began the session talking about her son, Deandre Knox's story.
"My son was shot in the back left of his head and at this point now we're seven years past the injury. He is what they call a non-verbal spastic quadriplegic. Terms that you don't hear until your life is impacted to the magnitude ours has,” Dycus said. she is also the founder of Purpose 4 Your Pain.
Dycus’s organization, Purpose 4 Your Pain provides resources and support for families impacted by gun violence.
Dycus is sharing her son’s story to show the impact gun violence can have, even if a victim survives. As is the case with many shooting survivors, his attacker is still unknown.
"The solve rate as it relates to non-fatal shootings is incredibly low,” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said.
Mears is working to change that. The rise in non-fatal shootings in Indianapolis making the situation more dire. In the first six months of 2020, there were 220 non-fatal shootings. In that same time frame in 2021, there have been at least 317. The majority of which are unsolved.
"The non-fatal shooting is just someone with poor aim or access to really good medical care and that's the reason it's not a homicide,” Mears said.
He also shared with the crowd that victims often do not share information after these types of shootings. The biggest hurdle in solving these crimes is the lack of trust between the community and law enforcement.
"We need to make sure we do everything in our power to build that trust and that relationship between the community and law enforcement, so people come forward with information. Of all the non-fatal shootings that occurred in Marion County there is someone out there that knows what happened,” Mears explained.
Several community members spoke up during the meeting about what they feel is the root of the problem and how it can be solved.
Others like Aleanya Moore here to encourage people in her community to act. Moore founded a mentoring program for young women in her community called Ladies Under Construction.
"I think a lot of times we are waiting for permission to do things, pointing fingers, but I am a firm believer that… what is it that we're doing?” Moore said.
Mears explained that solving the issue starts with him, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system. They need to make investments in the people of Indianapolis to spark necessary change.
“So that the community is willing to trust us and come forward with that information. We have to do a better job in making people feel secure knowing that they can come forward and provide information and not be the victim of retaliatory violence,” Mears added.
Mears also outlined some of the efforts his office is putting towards this mission.
The prosecutor’s office is going to use the Grand Jury more often, which allows people to provide a statement under oath that is sealed. It is not available to the public.
They are also working to improve victim and witness outreach. They want to be there building relationships before something bad happens.
The prosecutor’s office is also going to take a more active role in the investigative side of things as it relates to cell phone evidence. The office just made an investment in technology to analyze and pull information from cell phones to help determine what led to shootings.