Under the Gun: Tracking One Deadly Crime Spree
A gun-shop burglary might have triggered events that left three people shot and brought Nathan Trapuzzano’s morning walk to a tragic end.
1. Just before 3 a.m. on March 22, 2014, burglars steal 22 handguns and two assault rifles from C&C Midwest Firearms in Clermont, one of at least three major thefts from area gun retailers in 2014. The haul includes three .40-caliber Glock and nine Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistols.
2. On March 30 at 8:18 p.m., Erick Douglas, 21, bumps into another man at Baba Steak & Lemonade on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. They argue, draw handguns, and fire. Multiple shots strike Douglas. His brother rushes him to the hospital, and he survives. Police find six .45-caliber shell casings, likely from Douglas’s gun, along with two spent .40-caliber shells and two bullet fragments detectives believe came from the other shooter.
3. A little after midnight on April 1, an IMPD officer approaches several men standing around a Chevy Impala in an eastside parking lot near Washington Park, and he sees one of them tuck something into his pocket. The officer searches the man—identified in court documents as Richard Pippens, 25—and finds drugs, a digital scale, and a black Smith & Wesson M&P 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol.
4. Pippens tells police he got the 9-mm from someone nicknamed “Red” and that it came from a gun-shop burglary. The gun’s serial number matches one stolen from C&C. Pippens also says that “Red” recently shot someone along MLK Street.
5. A few hours after police pick up Pippens, a security camera at the Sunset Strip club on West 16th Street captures three men breaking into a car. One of the men threatens a guard with a handgun, and then the three run away.
6. About three hours after the car break-in, Nathan Trapuzzano, 24, takes an early-morning fitness walk along West 16th. Two men accost him between Club Venus and Tron’s Tire Shop in a robbery attempt. One shoots Trapuzzano in the abdomen. He dies hours later at Eskenazi Hospital. In time, security-camera footage shows what appears to be the shooter holding a gun and wearing camouflage pants, a hooded sweatshirt, and a dark-colored stocking cap.
Trapuzzano, a computer programmer at Ivy Tech, was set to celebrate his one-year wedding anniversary with his wife, Jennifer, a month after the April 1 shooting. She gives birth to the couple’s first child, Cecilia, on April 25.
7. After midnight on April 2, Simeon Adams, 16, arrives at Eskenazi Hospital with a gunshot wound to the neck. He is wearing camo pants, a gray hoodie, and a black stocking cap, according to court documents. Police later recover several .40-caliber shell casings at the scene of Adams’s shooting.
According to media reports, Adams’s mom drowned when he was a baby, and his dad did time in prison for auto theft, robbery, and a gun violation. His rap sheet includes gun violations, burglary, and drug possession. In 2013, he was arrested after he stole a car, threw a gun from the window in a police chase, and crashed the vehicle.
8. Later on April 2, investigators discover a .40-caliber shell casing in the parking lot of Club Venus, in the immediate vicinity of Trapuzzano’s murder. The Marion County Crime Lab matches it to the .40-caliber shells found at the scene of Douglas’s shooting at Baba Steak.
9. After Trapuzzano’s murder, a witness confirms that “Red” is Adams, and that Adams told him Trapuzzano “tried to tussle with me, so I shot him,” according to court documents. Douglas also IDs Adams as the shooter at Baba Steak, and a third witness, Martez McGraw, 16, admits to having been with Adams for much of the crime spree.
10. An April 5 search of Adams’s residence on West 34th Street turns up two live .40-caliber rounds, a spent 9-millimeter shell, and tags from two pistols: a Walther P22 and a .40-caliber Glock, “possibly related” to the C&C burglary, according to a court document.
11. The Marion County Prosecutor’s office charges Adams with the murder of Trapuzzano and attempted murder of Douglas on April 8. Adams reportedly violated his probation from the 2013 car theft multiple times prior to the Trapuzzano shooting. His probation officer resigns about a week after Adams is charged.
At press time, Adams’s trial was scheduled for June 22, and only one gun reported stolen from C&C was known to have been recovered—Pippens’s Smith & Wesson. The weapon used to kill Trapuzzano was still missing.
Adams photo courtesy WTHR; Trapuzzano photo permission Jennifer Trapuzzano
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.