In January 2014, the body of John Sullivan, a delivery driver with Indy-based Just Pizza, was discovered in the basement of a house on the near-southwest side. Authorities alleged that two men, Jeremiah Roberts, 26, and Derek Romano, 21, lured the 49-year-old driver there with a pizza order to rob him. Then they shot and killed him.
The owner of Just Pizza, Joey Davis, knows the risk drivers like Sullivan face. Criminals “try to prey on people they think are weak,” says Davis, who claims he once had a gun pressed into his stomach on a delivery before he escaped on foot, uninjured. A year later, he fired at (and barely missed) a man who held up the chain’s East 10th Street location. Davis doesn’t discourage employees from carrying a weapon—three at the 10th Street store pack Glock .45 pistols. One driver at Just Pizza’s westside location contacted by IM declined to say how many drivers there carry weapons, but added, “We’re big believers in the Second Amendment.”
Pizza delivery is often cited as one of the most dangerous occupations nationwide, though the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track the specific numbers. But according to preliminary data for 2013, the occupational class they belong to—“drivers, sales workers, and truck drivers”—experienced the highest fatality rate of any job, registering 748 deaths. Indeed, less than two weeks after Sullivan’s death, Papa John’s driver Daniel Jaffke delivered to a southside apartment complex where a robber shot the 30-year-old through the heart and left him dead by a Dumpster. The shooter, Shawn Wilson, 27, was convicted in August.
Davis admits having a firearm doesn’t necessarily deter attacks: Sullivan, he says, was believed to have been carrying a weapon at the time of his murder.
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.