Five people were found shot dead in an Indianapolis home on Sunday morning, a crime the city’s mayor denounced as a perverse act of “mass murder” that amplified a recent wave of gun violence in that country.
One of the victims was a pregnant woman, officials said, who said efforts to save the fetus were unsuccessful.
Authorities said more than one person could have carried out the shooting and that the victims were targeted.
The bloodshed came just days after the mayor and police officials discussed plans to reduce violent crime in Indianapolis, where local media reported there were 245 homicides in 2020 – a record, and an increase of 40% compared to 2019.
Mayor Joe Hogsett condemned the violence at a Sunday afternoon press conference, in which the city’s police chief said the attack was the worst mass shooting in more than a decade in Indianapolis.
“What happened this morning was a mass murder,” Mr Hogsett said, “the choice of one or more individuals to bring – and I don’t use those words lightly – terror in our community. “
The victims were Kezzie Childs, 42; Raymond Childs Jr., 42; Elijah Childs, 18; Rita Childs, 13; Kiara Hawkins, 19, and her male fetus, the Marion County Coroner’s Office said.
A sixth victim, described as a young man, was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after being found in a nearby block before the other victims were discovered, police said. Authorities said he had to survive.
“What we saw this morning was a different kind of evil,” said Randal Taylor, the city’s police chief. “There are no good words to say at the moment. I myself have a broken heart for the lives that were taken too soon, for the young life that was forever changed and for the young life that never had the chance to begin, for the neighborhood left to pick up the pieces as a result of unprecedented violence and for all family and friends who have been rocked by grief.
Police said just before 4 a.m. they received a report of a person shot dead in the northeastern part of Indianapolis. When the police arrived, they found the minor who had been shot and wounded.
Officers subsequently received information that led them to a nearby house in the 3500 block of Adams Street, where police said they found the five people shot dead.
It was not immediately clear why the victims, at least four of whom shared the same last name, were targeted.
Chief Taylor said the shooting appeared to be an isolated event and there did not appear to be a threat to the public.
“I am angry that the perpetrators felt they had the right to commit this senseless act in the community, in our community,” he said.
The mayor pledged to bring those responsible for the shooting to justice, as well as anyone who may have provided the weapons used in the attack and anyone who encouraged the assassins. Mr. Hogsett said he had previously engaged the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana and other law enforcement partners.
“I want officials to know that all the power of local, state and federal law enforcement is coming for them,” Mr. Hogsett said, saying, “As I speak, come for them today, come for them tonight, come for them tomorrow and the next day, come and get them as long as it takes to find them. And we will not stop there.
Chief Taylor noted that the attack was one of several shootings that took place in the city on the same night.
“I think it‘s concerning that we have to have so many detectives assigned to homicide in the first place,” he said.
Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, criticized the city’s response to the recent violence in a series of Twitter posts on Sunday.
“Our neighborhoods across the city are suffering from repeated trauma as a result of the rise in violence,” Snyder said.
Mr. Hogsett attributed the spike in violent crime in Indianapolis and across the country in part to “the economic and personal anxiety facing millions of Americans due to a global pandemic.”
“But that’s not what happened today,” he said. “It’s a crisis of morality, a crisis of conscience. This morning, the city of Indianapolis was the target of an act of depravity that has become all too common across the country and which will never cease to shock the conscience.