Five people and an unborn child were killed early Sunday morning in Indianapolis, in what city police say was the largest mass casualty shooting in more than a decade.
Kezzie Childs, 42, Raymond Childs, 42, Elijah Childs, 18, Rita Childs, 13, and Kiara Hawkins, 19, and the unborn child of Hawkins were pronounced dead after being found in a home in the 3500 block of Adams Street, according to Sgt. Shane Foley of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Investigators were led to the grisly crime scene around 4 a.m., after making contact with a juvenile male, whose age police didn't disclose, who was found suffering from gunshot wounds just footsteps away in the 3300 block of East 36th Street, between Keystone Avenue and Sherman Drive.
It is believed that the boy was wounded in the Adams Street incident. If so, he is the only recorded survivor at this time. No motive or suspect information has been released. However, IMPD Police Chief Randal Taylor said police believes the victims were targeted by one or more people.
Law enforcement are looking into whether the shooters illegally obtained the guns and will also investigate who is responsible for supplying the guns, said Mayor Joe Hogsett during a public address from IMPD's North District headquarters in the wake of the tragedy.
The mass shooting on Adams Street was one of nearly a half-dozen shootings that happened across the city in a span of less than five hours that ended in at least seven people hospitalized in addition to those killed.
The deadly night comes weeks after Indianapolis recorded the most violent year in the city's history, which city officials attributed to the desperation that plagued already struggling communities during a deadly pandemic across the country.
"For a decade now, the city of Indianapolis has engaged in a community conversation as to how we should best address the deadly confluence of guns, substance abuse and poverty that has seen our city's homicide rate rise to historic highs," said Hogsett. City officials said the Adams Street shooting is part of the violence endemic to communities across America but also one that rises to a new level of moral depravity.
"What we saw this morning was a different kind of evil," Taylor said.
"I myself am heartbroken," he said. "For the lives that have been taken too soon, for the young life that's forever been changed and for the life that never got the chance to start, for the neighborhood left to pick up the pieces in the wake of unprecedented violence."
When asked if any policy could have prevented the mass killing, Hogsett said the city's programs aim to reduce the crimes of passion, self defense and desperation.
"Not that any crime of gun violence is acceptable under any circumstance, but when it is a crime of passion or retaliation, that is one thing," he said. "It is a completely different thing for a trigger puller, or perhaps several trigger pullers, to walk into one home and kill six people. And that is why we're here today."
Hogsett said he didn't know what motivated the suspects but said local police have the support of federal authorities on the case.
“I want those to know that the full might of local, state and federal law enforcement are coming for them as I speak ... coming for them as long as it takes to find them,” he said.
Shardae Hoskins, a member of the police department's Violence Reduction Team, said people in the Adams Street neighborhood woke up scared and are tired of the violence in their streets.
To reduce violence, she said, the city not only has to change the way people handle conflict but also fix the systematic issues of poverty that drive much of the crimes.