INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gunfire erupted as throngs were celebrating a mild St. Patrick’s Day along a popular downtown canal in Indianapolis and at least five teenagers were wounded by shots, two critically, police said.
The shots rang out Saturday night near the Downtown Canal on the west side of this Midwest city shortly after 10 p.m., police spokeswoman Linda Jackson said in a statement. The canal with its pedestrian pathway and restaurants dotting the area is a popular gathering place and had been thronged during the weekend, reports said. Police said patrolling officers were already downtown and had gone to check on a report of young people fighting when they suddenly heard gunfire nearby, according to the statement.
Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Staub was quoted by The Indianapolis Star as initially saying that the sound of gunfire sent people scrambling and that police had stopped a car afterward. However, the police statement released early Sunday reported no arrests and made no mention of any car being halted or some initial media reports suggesting the gunfire had come from a car.
Sgt. Jackson said in the statement that the investigation was continuing. The police statement did not indicate if the reports of fighting were linked to the gunfire.
“Detectives from multiple units are working together to follow up on leads that have developed,” her statement added, without elaborating.
Jason Salim, who identified himself as a student living in apartments near the canal, told broadcaster WISH TV that he heard at least three gunshots.
“I thought it was fireworks ... after a few minutes I heard police cars come by,” Salim told the station.
The police statement said a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl were both in critical condition soon after the shooting, the boy with a gunshot wound to the chest and the girl with a gunshot wound to the leg. Jackson said both were taken to nearby Riley Hospital for Children.
Police also said a 14-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the face was listed in good condition at the same hospital.
The statement also said two other teens were taken in good condition to Wishard Hospital nearby and subsequently released after treatment: a 17-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the back and another 17-year-old boy with a gunshot wound to the leg. All of the victims were initially helped by police officers until emergency paramedics arrived moments later, according to police. Jackson did not immediately release the names of the wounded.
Authorities at Riley Hospital for Children told The Associated Press they had no immediate information early Sunday on three teens hospitalized there.
WISH TV reported the shooting occurred near the Indianapolis Historical Society building, close to the canal, and that a wedding reception was being held at that complex Saturday evening. The report said one wedding guest was approached by one of the victims out in a nearby parking lot. Rick Dossey told WISH TV he was a guest at the reception when people reported they saw police cars approach from several directions but the guests never felt in danger despite the nearby shooting.
“We were kept for a couple hours afterwards as (the) crime scene was being investigated,” he told the station.
Local news photographs showed yellow tape surrounding a large, rainswept parking lot where police had blocked off a large area near the canal. At least a dozen police officers were at the rainy crime scene investigating overnight and TV reports said there was a heavy police presence on the canal following the shooting.
Information from: WISH-TV, http://www.wishtv.com/