Church leaders have hope city can turn murder rate around

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – An overnight deadly shooting marks the 145th murder of the year, making 2016 the deadliest year on record in Indianapolis.

IMPD says the shooting happened just before midnight near 15th Street and Gladstone Avenue.

There have been many programs and initiatives this year to help curb crime in the city.

But we’ve still reached the deadliest year ever.

With nine days left to go in year, now many are wondering if those programs are working.

“It just shows that we have our work cut out for us,” said Rev. John Girton, Jr. the Senior Pastor at Christ Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s northwest side

“We’re facing hopelessness and when you look at the numbers, 145 homicides, it speaks to the hopelessness,” said Rev. Darryl Webster, the pastor at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s far east side.

Both Rev. Webster and Rev. Girton have dealt with crime in this city for years.

“We must continually be intentional about the work that we are called to do in communities where people are hurting,” said Rev. Girton.

We first met Rev Girton in the summer of 2015. For a month he slept in a tent a the corner of 30th Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, hoping to call attention to crime in the city, but also find a solution.

“Our children are not going to wait to grow up for us to figure these things out, they’re going to grow up in the midst of these challenges,” said Rev. Girton.

The last time we spoke with Webster was in September. His church was hosting a violence seminar. At this time the city had 109 homicides.

“You talk about helping these young guys that are going this killing, you got to help them believe in themselves,” said Rev. Webster.

Part of the church’s work is their bootcampEvery morning at 5:45 a.m. men crowd in the sanctuary to learn how to better themselves.

The program even got the attention of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“They’re looking for somebody that will come along side them and walk the journey with them,” said Anthony Beverly of Stop The Violence Indianapolis.  “It’s going to take a lot of work, it’s going to take getting your hands dirty.

When asked if there was hope that the city would be able to turn its crime statistics around, they all said, “yes,” but they said the change has to happen with the people at the top working with the people at the bottom.

They said whoever Mayor Joe Hogsett appoints to replace outgoing IMPD Chief Troy Riggs must take the community into account.

“We just have to be sure that all of those who are in positions of leadership maintain a ear for our community and that’s one of the number one things that I’d want to make sure that that next individual is community minded,” said Rev. Girton.

“I think there has to be a collaboration of not just the grassroots people, but those at the top really being intentional about finding those who are at the bottom, who are making major impacts,” said Rev. Webster.