Vigil held for teen shot at birthday party

An Indianapolis community is asking for answers – asking anyone who knows who fired shots at an east side birthday party, hitting a 13-year-old, to speak up.

24-Hour News 8 was at a prayer vigil Friday evening for that teen who’s now fighting for his life.

“He’s fighting right now as we speak, and that is why I’m here,” said Deandra Yates, the teen’s mother.

“As a dad, it hurts. It hurts. I just gotta be strong and keep praying for my son, that he’s coming home. He’s coming home,” said Gerald Keys, Jr., the teen’s father.

They didn’t want to share their son’s name, but they say the 13-year-old was at a birthday party near 38th and Guion Road Saturday evening. His mother says she was apprehensive to allow her son to go to his first party, but she knew it was supervised by adults, and let him go. Police say someone fired shots from outside the party into the home.

One of those bullets hit that teenager, sending him to Riley Hospital, where he remains, a week later, in stable but critical condition.

The teen is described as a seventh-grade honor roll student, a member of the Young Men, Inc. Youth Ministry. He had aspirations to one day become a firefighter or NFL football player.

“It’s senseless. My son was an innocent bystander,” said Yates. “I just decided to let him go out and have a little fun. The most senseless thing happened to him, and I know I’m not the only parent suffering.”

“As an African proverb goes, when you lose the elderly you lose the history. But when you lose our children, we lose the future. No mother deserves to have her child on life support,” said IMPD Chief Rick Hite, who also attended the vigil at Great Commission Church of God on N. Arsenal Avenue.

Officials said they’re doing everything they can to find whoever pulled the trigger, but they need the public – to step up – and speak.

“We can’t let our children take the lives of our children. We have to send a strong message we are the adults in the room. We mean business. We can’t continue to let this happen,” said Chief Hite.

“I forgive them. I need them to understand the pain they have caused in my life. And they need to understand the pain my son is in right now,” said Yates, asking whoever did this, to turn themselves in to police.

Meanwhile, they hope for the best for their son.

“We’re just hoping and praying for the best, hoping and praying for the best,” said Yates.

This weekend, Chief Hite says they’re deploying more officers in the east district.

Officials say that will allow the officers that normally take runs, to have a more targeted approach: to conduct traffic stops and find those who are carrying guns who shouldn’t be.

Chief Hite said they’re sending a message to criminals – this won’t be tolerated.

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