Indianapolis police have arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection to the Adams Street shooting that left five people and an unborn child dead.
Officials with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said the name and photo of the suspect is not being released because the individual is not an adult.
According to an IMPD report, the suspect is 17 years old.
Investigators do not believe any other suspects were involved.
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“Yesterday, we promised swift justice for this heinous act. Today, we delivered on that promise,” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said in a statement. “While removing the alleged perpetrator of yesterday’s mass murder from our neighborhoods does not bring back the lives senselessly lost, hopefully, it will bring us one step closer to healing as a community.”
Kezzie Childs, 42, Raymond Childs, 42, Elijah Childs, 18, Rita Childs, 13, Kiara Hawkins, 19, and the unborn child of Hawkins were pronounced dead after being found in a home around 4 a.m. Sunday in the 3500 block of Adams Street.
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Investigators were led to the crime scene after making contact with a juvenile male, whose age police didn’t disclose, who was found suffering from gunshot wounds just steps 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 shooting. If so, he is the only recorded survivor at this time.
Police have not released any information about the suspect’s connection to the victims or a potential motive.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett called the arrest the first step toward justice.
“While nothing can bring back the Childs family, I hope that the swift action of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department offers some comfort to all of those who have been left to grapple with this tragic loss,” he said.
Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili said that he was “saddened and frustrated” by the violence impacting Indianapolis.
“This is a collective loss, and the violence is our collective problem,” Osili said in a prepared statement. “One thing we can and must do as a community is share what we know so we can find justice in this 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 wounded in addition to those killed.
On Sunday, Taylor called the Adams Street killings the largest mass casualty shooting the city has seen in more than a decade.
But Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, said this weekend’s tragedy is the continuation of a gun homicide trend that has shaken the city since reaching a peak of 215 criminal homicides in 2020.
“These six deaths are just as important as the six we had last week,” said Snyder. “The problem is we have record levels of violence that continue to surge, it’s going unabated.”
Bringing justice against a juvenile
Indiana has laws in place to help prosecutors navigate the delicate issue of charging minors with serious crimes. If murder charges are brought against the suspect, it is likely that their case will end up in adult court, said Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer Mark Nicholson.
The age of the suspect could weigh heavily in what happens next.
If an individual charged with murder is 16 or 17 years old, their case is out of the jurisdiction of juvenile court, according to Indiana law.
Juveniles can receive consecutive sentences for each of their crimes in adult court. That means if they are convicted of multiple felony murders — the recommended sentencing of which is 45 to 65 years per count — they can end up with a stack of convictions that amount to life in prison, according to ex-Marion County deputy prosecutor Ralph Staples.
“My guess would be that anyone convicted of multiple murders would receive a consecutive sentence,” Staples said. “As a former prosecutor I prosecuted those cases where my victims were more than one, and we argued that judges should impose consecutive sentences and they agreed.”
Indiana law says that individuals under 18-years-old cannot receive the death penalty, and individuals who are 16 to 17-years-old can receive a maximum sentence of life without parole.
The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled against capital punishment being used against juveniles in a 2005 case.
Murder of an unborn child
Also at stake is how the individual will be prosecuted for having murdered an unborn child. The death of the fetus means harsher penalties in Indiana.
State law was changed two years ago to make it murder to knowingly or intentionally kill a fetus in any developmental stage. Previously, only one charge was filed if a pregnant woman was murdered. The law does not apply to legal abortions.
In the Sunday shooting, that means prosecutors can try for six counts of murder in the death of the five adults and the unborn fetus, according to Novella Nedeff, a clinical associate professor at Indiana University’s school of law.
“There could be six counts of murder filed, even for a juvenile,” she said. She added if the suspect is also believed to be the person who shot the juvenile male believed to be the lone survivor in the incident, an attempted murder charge could also come into play.
IndyStar reporters Sarah Nelson and Amelia-Pak Harvey contributed to this report.
Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.