Indianapolis News and HeadlinesWRTV Investigates


Indiana State Police blame road rage for spike in interstate shootings, say gunmen face minimal consequences

State police are working with lawmakers on changes to state law
interstate shooting.png
Posted at 4:00 AM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 11:31:46-04

Lorie Hendy says she just recently started driving on I-465 again after avoiding the loop for nearly four years.

The mother of four spoke candidly with WRTV’s Rafael Sanchez as she described her terrifying experience on July 27, 2019.

It’s a day she says she will never forget.

Hendy was driving back from an overnight girls’ softball tournament with three young girls in her SUV.

The girls had just won third place in the tournament and even though it was 3 a.m. they were still hyped up.

They were entering onto I-465 on the north side at 71st Street when Hendy said a vehicle spun out in front of her.

“It had snowed overnight, so the roads were pretty slick,” Hendy said. “Next thing I know I heard a loud sound... and I saw this car losing control.”

She pulled over and dialed 911 to get help as other vehicles attempted to get onto the interstate as well.

Hendy says what happened next had her speeding away so quickly that she isn’t sure how she was able to drive safely on those slick roads.

“This man walks across the lanes on I-465... my daughter saw him raise his shirt up and pull out what appeared to be a gun,” Hendy said. “He pointed that gun at us and the next thing you know the fire went off.”

She was still on the phone with 911 when the man opened fire on her vehicle, and she says her first instinct was to just get away.

911 call Interstate Shooting

“My first reaction was to punch the gas,” Hendy said. “How we did not wreck that car is beyond me.”

Caller: “They just shot at us. They shot at us.”
Operator: “Okay. Where are you at?”
Caller: “We’re at 465 the 117, they’re coming for us. I’ve got four kids in the car.”

Hendy said as she pulled out, the shooter got into a vehicle and began pursuing her.

“He didn’t think twice about who we were, who I had in my vehicle,” Hendy said.

Caller: “You guys gotta hurry please. Please, oh my GOD. Please help us. You guys gotta hurry.”
Operator: “Ok ma’am. We’re on the way. We’re on the way. I need you to try to stay as calm as you can. For the kids.”

As she sped from the scene, surrounded by shattered glass and screaming kids, Hendy says she didn’t even realize that her vehicle had been hit during the round of gunfire.

“I didn’t realize until moments later that my tire had been shot out, so I was driving on a flat tire and the speed was over 100 miles per hour,” Hendy said. “How we got to where we got is beyond us. Other than the fact that I truly believe that God saved us that day.”

She stayed with 911 the entire time as she pleaded with the dispatcher to send her help.

Caller: “They’re coming. They’re coming and they’re going to shoot us. They’re following me. Oh my GOD. Oh my GOD.”

Hendy’s biggest fear at that moment was getting shot and losing control of the vehicle. She said she gave her daughter and the other girls instructions in the middle of the chaos.

“If I get shot, you’re going to have to climb on top of me and drive this car,” Hendy said she told her daughter. “I was telling all the girls to, you know, stay down.” 

After what felt like an eternity, the chase finally ended, and Hendy was able to pull into a Flying J truck stop at I-465 and SR 37 on the city’s south side. An Indiana State Police trooper met them at the location.

"It has got to stop,” Hendy said. “I mean there are way too many of these happening.”

The man who shot at Hendy was later identified after police connected his bumper to his vehicle.

According to court records, he was placed on electronic monitoring and after going through the court system, the four criminal charges he faced from that night were eventually dismissed on Oct. 8, 2021.

"Something has to change,” Hendy said. “There is no reason why we should be going into our vehicles and being afraid if we're going to make it home.”

An alarming trend

Hendy's experience that night was just part of an increasing trend over the past several years.

Since 2019 there have been nearly 200 cases of interstate shootings around I-465. In 2023, there have already been 17 cases reported as of April 25.

Last year was one of our worst years on record for the area with 66 cases of road rage involving gunfire reported.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Josh Graves says it isn’t just the numbers – the interstate shootings are also different.

"It's a traumatic experience on the interstate," said Graves.

Graves joined the department in 2018 and serves as the Investigation Squad leader at the Indianapolis Post. He overseas eight detectives who investigate everything from fraud to homicides to road rage.

“In 2018 if we had an interstate shooting, it was almost always targeted,” Graves said. “Meaning the individuals knew each other, there was something going on that instigated that shooting.”

Graves said they started to see those numbers go up significantly starting in 2021.

Not only were the numbers increasing at an alarming rate, but the mechanism and reasoning behind those shootings became even harder for state police to follow.

“The majority of those, a large portion of those, are road-rage related,” Graves said. “These are strangers to each other, and they’ve been involved in a road rage incident and a gun was pulled and fired.”

A large map at the Indiana State Police headquarters shows every road rage incident involving gunfire across the state as investigators seek to determine what's driving the shootings and whether there's a pattern.

"We've had these cases where it's simply - someone changed lanes and they didn't see a car was there - and the next thing they know that car is passing them and firing at them," Graves said. "A majority of our interstate shootings are road rage."

Right now, there isn’t any area of the I-465 loop that is immune to violence and the shootings are happening at all hours of the day and days of the week.

WRTV’s Rafael Sanchez broke down the data from ISP to see when most of the interstate shootings are happening around I-465.

According to that data, most shootings in the area are happening between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the evening.

And an even closer look at the data shows that the majority of those are happening on the weekend as well.

WRTV Investigates' review of records shows that in most of these shootings, no arrests are ever made because the victims and witnesses are unable to provide enough information about the shooter or the vehicle involved.

In 2022, for example, only six arrests were made out of the 66 reported cases of shootings on the interstate.

“It’s a tough case to work. It’s a crime scene that’s constantly evolving," Graves said. "There are people that are moving… We really would like more help from the public that’s there."

He says people either leave the scene, are scared to stick around or just don't want to get involved. But any information — even the most insignificant piece — can help them with their investigation.

"The more information we have the more likelihood we're going to have of being able to bring someone to be held accountable for those actions," Graves said.

Changes are needed

Indiana State Police Lt. Josh Watson, who oversees the Indianapolis post, said he wants to see the laws change to send a stronger message to people who open fire while driving on the state’s roads.

"We're doing everything we can," Watson said. "At the end of the day we're public servants. We're trying to keep our community in a state where it's safe for all of us to live."

He says state police are working with state lawmakers and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, also known as IPAC, to develop new language to change the law.

"We're working with the legislators to try and partner and catch some of the laws up," Watson said. "The laws, when they were written, made perfect sense until after they had gone through the courts."

In most cases involving road rage, a shooter with no other criminal history faces very limited jail time.

Under current state law, someone who displays a firearm to intimidate the other driver during a road rage incident could face the same punishment as someone who shoots into a vehicle in which no one is injured.

"A lot of times when they go through the system what we end up with is a level 5 felony," Watson said.

A level 5 felony holds a maximum sentence of just six years if a person is convicted.

To put that in perspective, you could face greater jail time if your caught removing the serial number off a gun or if you're arrested for burglarizing a home with a gun in which no one is hurt.

“People that are pulling out their guns and choosing to shoot at people, shoot into a car that they know people are in – the blame absolutely falls on them,” Watson said. “There is not an excuse for that. I don’t care how mad you are, how offended you are. There’s no excuse for that.”


Contact WRTV Investigates