ELKHART — Two more people are dead following yet another shooting here and residents of the older, historic neighborhood where it occurred are left reeling.
The area around State and Division streets east of the downtown area is a historical district, neighbor Lorie King remarked. But she has another name for it: "We call it the historical hysterical neighborhood, because it's hysteria all the time."
Two men were shot and killed Tuesday in the State-Division neighborhood, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but few additional details were immediately available. Briefing reporters on the scene, Elkhart Police Department spokesman Sgt. Chris Snyder did not identify either victim pending notification of family.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Likewise, police did not immediately identify any suspects and said no arrests had been made as of late Tuesday afternoon. But Snyder added that police think it was an isolated – if not targeted – incident and didn't believe there was any remaining danger in the neighborhood.
He said it stemmed from some sort of dispute that escalated to gunshots.
The Elkhart County Coroner's Office took custody of the bodies and was planning autopsies at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Kalamazoo, Mich., to confirm the cause and manner of the deaths.
Police went to the home at 413 State St. around 3:30 p.m. after a report that two people had been shot. Snyder said the shooting appeared to have ended in the stairway of the building, a single-family home converted into apartments, though police don't know how or where it started or how many people were involved.
The apartment building is owned by a Las Vegas, Nev.-based company, county property records show. The neighborhood, meanwhile, has been focus of increased rehabilitation efforts by city boosters, who tout the late Victorian architecture of the homes, the brick streets and its proximity to the city center.
The killings were the ninth and 10th homicides in the city so far this year and the first since Savanna Best was stabbed to death inside her apartment on Aug. 18. In all, 13 people have been killed in homicides in Elkhart County so far this year.
FIVE TO NINE GUNSHOTS
Some neighbors reported hearing between five and nine gunshots on Tuesday. One woman said the shots came while she was telling her niece about gunfire she had heard in the same area the night before.
"She even heard them over the phone," the woman, who asked not to be indentified, said while holding her great-grandson in her arms.
She had lost a son to gun violence 23 years earlier in another part of Elkhart, and her granddaughter witnessed another shooting recently. But she said they've stayed in the city despite it all because "everything I had was here."
Not a whole lot of calls have come from the area, Snyder said, but he wonders whether people are reporting every incident. If someone reports hearing gunshots but doesn't want to be identified, he said, sometimes all officers can do is drive through and look for shell casings on the ground.
Larry King, Lorie King's husband, has nearly grown immune to gunshots. He grew up in the area and doesn't even jump anymore when he hears them, he said.
But the couple's son John said that between the threats and crime, it hasn't been easy living there. The Kings moved away for a while but moved back to Elkhart about eight years ago to open a flooring business.
"We try to hold our own with these people," John King said. "We have to stand our ground because they like to make us feel intimidated."
The neighborhood, dubbed the State Street-Division Street Historic District in National Register of Historic Places, dates to the late 1800s.
Police used crime scene tape to rope off much of State Street, a block of Madison Street south of the scene and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks while the investigation continued.
Five children from the neighborhood were on a school bus on their way home from Mary Beck Elementary when the shootings took place. The bus driver took them all back to the school as a precaution rather than drop them off near the scene, said Elkhart Community Schools spokeswoman Shawn Hannon.
Parents of four children later picked up the children from school and police brought a fifth home.
An evening reading program at Mary Beck Elementary was canceled Tuesday due to traffic congestion in the area caused by the police investigation, Hannon said.