There’s a saying that news is what happens to an editor on the way to work. But our feature on gun violence (“Under the Gun”) was already underway when one of the editors overseeing the story, Evan West, encountered the issue firsthand. Just after dusk in mid-November, West was in his front yard when he spotted a young man limping down the sidewalk, panting and moaning, with a silver-toned pistol in his hand. A set of headlights appeared at the top of the street. The man gasped in alarm, looked around frantically, and then set off across Spades Park. West guessed the man had been shot, so he called 911. While West was on the phone with dispatch, a police cruiser appeared, already responding to a shots-fired call. A couple of streets away, officers located a stolen Lincoln Navigator, still running, riddled with bullet holes. Narcotics and drug paraphernalia were found inside.
“This was the second shooting incident on the street I grew up on that I’ve been involved with since I moved back,” says West, who wrote about an attack on his friend and neighbor for our March 2013 crime issue. This latest episode, he says, seemed “emblematic of the breakdown of law and order” around his Brookside-area neighborhood.
For this month’s feature, we explore that breakdown citywide, concentrating primarily on gun deaths (sadly, to catalog each shooting likely would have taken up the entire magazine). As tempting as it might be to turn past such a tough subject, I encourage you to take a moment to absorb the effect one year of violence has had on our city, a period that saw the highest number of gun-related homicides in at least a decade. Maybe it’s no surprise that much of the crime is concentrated in the inner city, parts of which are plagued by drug activity, abandoned homes, and poverty. But as our timeline shows, no corner of Indy—from the west side, where Nathan Trapuzzano was killed on a morning walk, to the northside SWAT-shooting of a gun-wielding man near St. Vincent Hospital—is immune to gun violence. While the loss of life may not directly affect you, the loss of quality of life surely does.
Amanda Heckert is the editor-in-chief of Indianapolis Monthly.
Indianapolis is coming off one of its deadliest years ever. Under the Gun, from our February 2015 issue, offers a grim look at the violence killing our city.