7:45 AM EDT, March 19, 2012
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department continues to investigate shootings that injured five teens Saturday night.
Visitors said they are rethinking the safety of downtown Indianapolis due to Saturday night's crowd at the canal.
"A lot of people hanging out, big crowds, hoodlums and hoodrats," said Heather Perez.
"We came down one time and there was just a bunch of kids from the mall hanging out here kicking it," said Eddie DeJesus.
City officials maintain downtown is safe and it is the responsibility of parents to keep tabs on their children at night.
While Lexus Chandler, 16, fights a touch-and-go battle for life inside Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, her aunts plead for the surrender of the young man who wounded her during a shooting spree downtown Saturday night.
"From what I understand he's a very, very young man and it’s not too late to get some help before he gets older," said Roberta Porter.
The teenager, who has attended Arsenal Technical High School, was seriously wounded in the leg on the downtown canal. Four other teens were also wounded. Three have been released from the hospital. A 14-year-old boy is in serious condition with a chest wound.
Responding police officers saved Chandler’s life by stopping the blood loss from a wound to her upper thigh.
"She hasn't been able to talk yet but she is doing fine," said Porter. “She looks at us and she recognizes us."
The shootings occurred at 10 p.m. after an altercation between two groups of young people.
Early Sunday morning, IMPD SWAT officers raided a house on the north side searching for evidence. Several people were taken in for questioning. There have been no arrests.
Police Chief Paul Ciesielski said the problem to youth violence on spring and summer nights in downtown Indianapolis can be traced back to a lack of parental oversight.
"Two of the victims that were shot were 14-years-old," said Ciesielski, "and I would ask their parents, 'Why are they downtown unsupervised at ten o’clock on a Saturday night?'
"Our downtown is safe. I really think in order to prevent this from happening again as we come now to the true long warm summer months, we’re going to need to sit down with the community and our faith-based leaders and the business people downtown and come up with a plan for how we can safeguard our youth to make sure this doesn’t happen again."
Members of the city's religious community said they have heard that plea before after the 2010 Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebrations shootings downtown that left ten people injured in one night.
"We're not surprised. We're not surprised at all," said Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition. "It's going to take the police department, the mayor's office, the faith community and the business community. We ought to address this problem now and quit putting it off."
Until recently off-duty police officers, hired by Indianapolis Downtown, Inc., patrolled downtown streets on weekend nights focusing specifically on wandering unsupervised youth.
"We have people who know how these kids are. A combination of the faith community and the police together where we know where the hot spots are. We know these kids hang around in front of the mall. They're at the bus stops. They're at the canal," said Harrison. "Those are the hot spots."
Those off-duty officers are no longer patrolling downtown. Harrison said the faith community is meeting with public safety officials Monday morning to develop a game plan for this summer.
Back at Riley Hospital for Children, Lexus Chandler remains in serious condition.
"She was just with some friends having a nice summer night on the canal downtown and out of nowhere some young guy starts shooting," said her aunt Karen Tarver, "and I guess he was shooting at some other guy and he just don't care."
"These kids nowadays, they really don’t care."