INDIANAPOLIS — As violent crime continues in Indianapolis, guns are being seized daily by law enforcement.
WRTV Investigates is taking a look inside the high tech labs where all those guns end up to be examined for crime clues.
“We do definitely feel like it never stops,” said Douglas Boxler, Marion County Crime Lab Firearms Section Supervisor. “If we get too far behind, we get behind really fast.”
In 2020, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department recovered 3,090 firearms involved in a crime. As of last week, 2,442 firearms have been seized so far this year, quickly approaching last year’s numbers and it’s only July.
“Seizing crime guns out of the hands of perpetrators of gun violence is a focus of IMPD,” said Major Matthew Thomas, IMPD criminal investigations division.
Metro police are submitting a couple dozen guns and shell casings for analysis each day to the crime lab. Every gun is examined, fired and photographed. Casings get a microscopic photo before being entered into a database that can determine if they’ve been used in other shootings around the city.
When this program took shape in 2018, the lab was able to match evidence that resulted in 435 leads that year, aiding in arrests. In 2019, they found 924 leads. In 2020, 1,099 leads. And so far this year, have found 1,246 leads — already topping last year’s numbers.
“That’s a good sign that we are connecting the pieces,” Thomas said.
This can be the key, police say, to unlocking another violent crime.
“An unwitnessed homicide may link to a case where there’s a witness shooting,” Boxler said.
“We are able to connect multiple cases, resolve multiple cases," Thomas added.
And that’s exactly what happened in the case on Cressmoor Court, where someone fired multiple shots into a home. Fast forward five days later, detectives seized a gun in a traffic stop on the other side of town that through forensic analysis matched evidence that was found at the shooting. It allowed them to file charges against a 20-year-old man for criminal recklessness and who is now serving a three year sentence.
“We are recovering more crime guns that are linking to additional incidents, or evidence from crime scenes is linking to additional incidents, and we are getting this information and analyzing this information in a way that we haven’t been able to in the past,” Thomas explained.
It helps police find those involved in shootings before another victim is added to our city’s growing list.
“Being able to prevent the next crime is essential in reducing gun violence and provide a safer neighborhood for everybody’s families,” he said.