Juvenile shooting linked to larger local teenage gun issues officials say


Police have made an arrest in the Sunday afternoon shooting involving two teenagers. The proseuctor’s office will determine later this week if the shooter will be charged as an adult based on evidence.

GREENFIELD — A weekend shooting incident involving two local male juveniles landed one in an Indianapolis hospital with a gunshot wound and another in a juvenile facility in Pendleton facing serious charges.

The shooting took place on the east side of Greenfield around 4:40 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The incident happened in the 1100 block of East 1st Street, just east of Riley Park. While details of the shooting have yet to be released, a preliminary police report noted the victim came to the shooter’s home and that’s where the shooting took place.

The latest update on the shooting victim, who is 16 years old, had the male teenager listed in stable condition. Preliminary evidence shows the victim was shot in the abdomen area and was originally taken to Hancock Regional Hospital before being transferred to an Indianapolis hospital.

“Immediately after the shooting, the victim got into a vehicle and left the scene,” Greenfield Police Department (GPD) Chief Deputy Chuck McMichael said in a release.

A GPD officer patrolling along E. Main Street near Riley Park was about to initiate a traffic stop on a passenger car that was driving recklessly. The vehicle was following a vehicle the victim was in.

“The officer was alerted to the victim and began providing emergency care to him, potentially saving his life,” McMichael said. “The victim remains hospitalized with a single gunshot wound and is stable.”

The suspect, a 17-year-old Greenfield teenager, was officially booked into the Hancock County Jail early Monday morning under preliminary charges of attempted murder, pointing a firearm and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon. However, officials moved the teenager to a juvenile facility in Pendleton about an hour later, stating that they needed to wait for all reports to be filed before deciding if the teenager will be charged as an adult.

Prosecutor Brent Eaton said his office planned to ask for a 72-hour hold on the case Tuesday and he didn’t expect to get his eyes on the paperwork, a probable cause affidavit, until mid-week at the earliest.

“There is a statutory reason for why he was transferred,” Eaton said. “For people under the age of 18, the Sheriff can only hold them for a few hours, and we absolutely want him to be in custody.”

Local officials say the shooting involves a much deeper issue than a couple of teenagers playing with a loaded gun. Greenfield Police Department Chief Brian Hartman said numerous juveniles are getting access to illegal guns and illegal drugs and are taking part in serious crimes in the area.

“The sad part is these are our own area kids doing this. These are not kids from Indianapolis who are coming over here doing this, and that’s the scary part,” Hartman said. “These kids are high school-aged kids, so we’re thankful this type of incident didn’t happen in a school parking lot or a place where others could have been hurt.”

Hartman and officials from the GPD have been dealing with a major issue of local teenagers carrying illegal guns and getting involved in criminal activities.

“Since June 26, we’ve been investigating a group, mainly juveniles related to the buying and selling of guns and drugs,” Hartman said. “Since the investigation has started, we’ve taken six illegal guns off the streets, along with narcotics and made eight to 10 arrests of both juveniles and adults.”

Officials have been seeing an uptick of juvenile shootings and juveniles involved in illegal activity ever since last year.

“The circle started out small, but the more we look into it, the bigger it just keeps getting,” Hartman said. “All of this, even what happened Sunday is related to a SWAT incident we had last week.”

Hartman believes that a lack of accountability for juveniles who get in serious trouble is one of the reasons so many teenagers have no fear when it comes to breaking the law and even shooting another person. While Hartman said he understands in nearly all homes both parents have to work these days, leaving many teens unsupervised, he feels unless parents and the community step up and hold teens accountable, Greenfield will continue to see an increase in teenage-related criminal activities.

“We don’t want to come out and blame just the parents because society is so different nowadays then even just a few years ago,” Hartman said.

Hartman said that the issue will not be curbed until teenagers who are acting out violent behavior with guns are held accountable. While Hartman feels the county’s Drug Court and Behavioral Health Court both provide a good service to people who commit crimes, he also believes that those who use guns should not be allowed to participate in that kind of help program.

“I have a hard time when someone pulls a gun and uses it on another to say that is a mental health issue,” Hartman said. “If you’re 17 and 18 years old out robbing people and shooting people and flashing guns, that’s not anxiety or stress or another form of mental illness.”