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Following a double homicide, an Eastside church grapples with its violent response



Indianapolis, Indiana – Homicides in Indianapolis in 2023 have already surpassed the number of murders on this day last year by a significant margin.

In comparison to 62 on April 23, 2022, and 77 on this date in 2021, when Indianapolis’ homicide count reached an annual high, IMPD had investigated 73 killings as of this afternoon.

”It feels like it’s getting worse,” said Damon Keough after the congregation of the Brookside Community Church took a prayer walk through its neighborhood Sunday. ”You can’t have a ball come into someone’s yard and somebody shoot you, it’s everywhere all at once, it’s not just in Brookside, it’s a national situation.”

This past weekend, two different shootings within a half-mile of the eastside resulted in the deaths of three people over the space of eight hours.

Despite enormous spending on community anti-violence initiatives, improved IMPD technology, and improved gun violence reduction techniques, the city’s 2023 homicide statistics are still exceeding 2021’s record.

”I have been in this community eight years now and there’s been no change,” said Roy Halbert.

In what may have been a home invasion on April 14, two ladies were shot to death and a juvenile was injured, and church members prayed in the front yard of 3525 South Brookside Parkway Dr.

Flowers were laid in bouquets on the front porch steps of the two-story house.

”Church isn’t meant to be behind four doors,” said Robert Blondet. “It’s meant to come from behind the four doors and that’s what we did today.”

Churchgoers who are dissatisfied said that they resort to the foundation of their beliefs for a way ahead while aiming criticism at the authorities who draft the rules that regulate the civic life.

”People are gonna be people and they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do,” said Blondet. ”We’re all responsible ultimately, we all have to take accountability.”

”The government itself is really to blame,” said Halbert. ”I think the law is bad where they have changed it to where you don’t have to have a permit and so it’s a lot of people walking around here with guns that are illegal in their back pockets. It’s scary to see a young person with a gun that he doesn’t even have his mind straight on what he’s going to do tomorrow and he’s walking around with a gun in his back pocket.”

The General Assembly’s recent moves to strengthen Indiana citizens’ constitutional rights to carry firearms, according to parishioners, have made them feel less safe.

”I blame the legislators, the ones who are passing the bills, because the bills that got passed recently, crime went up a lot more. The murders went up more. Until we get that solved, we’re gonna keep having these problems in the streets,” said Coi Taylor. ”I would buy all the guns back from all these. That’s’ what I would do. Destroy all of them.”

The congregation members are people of faith, therefore it is only natural that they are upbeat despite the darkness metaphorically descending upon their neighborhood.

”There’s a lack of hope, there’s an abundance of despair,” said Keough. ”I don’t wanna leave with this saying that all is lost because there is hope and I think the lie is that there is no hope but the truth is that there is hope.”

Two people were detained last week by IMPD detectives on firearms charges and as sought suspects in the Brookside double homicide.

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