Marion County Attorney Ryan Mears, prayer vigil at the Lake Castleton Apartments

INDIANAPOLIS — 2021 has been an unfortunate year for Lake Castleton Apartments, the scene of three murders over the course of 12 months.

His murder-free winning streak in 2022 ended on the afternoon of the last day of the year when 25-year-old Sean McNellye was found shot to death between two buildings.

On Sunday afternoon, a local church group, along with two city council members, stood at the site praying for peace.

“We believe that as a community of faith here in this neighborhood, it is part of our responsibility to pray not only for the family that has lost a loved one, but also for the people who live here in Lake Castleton and in our neighborhood,” he said Pastor Matt Landry of Castleton United Methodist Church.

Elsewhere on the east side, other ministers tend to wounded herds as well.

“I hear a lot of pain. I feel very alone,” said Pastor Reginald Fletcher of the Living Word Baptist Church. “Often our young people have solutions, but they need guidance and direction for that solution.”

Just a week into 2023, Indianapolis has already counted three teenagers killed by gunfire.

Marion County District Attorney Ryan Mears’ office won more than two dozen murder cases in court last year to reach its 84% ​​conviction rate in 2021.

“We’re really pleased with the homicide numbers this year as measured by our courtroom murder conviction rate,” Mears said, “but we’ve only been able to do that because of the relationships we’ve built within the community.”

In two notable setbacks for prosecutors, charges were dropped against the defendant in a 2015 quadruple murder on North Harding Street on charges of killing two witnesses, compromising DNA evidence and violating the suspect’s constitutional rights. In the second case, the prosecutor is appealing a judge’s decision to disallow the murder weapon that IMPD investigators alleged Caden Smith killed three people near South Meridian Street in the fall of 2021.

Mears said the demise of Indiana’s gun law last July made it harder for law enforcement to take illegally owned guns off the streets.

“We’re seeing fewer handgun cases presented to our office,” he said. “We currently have a high level of gun proliferation in our community and law enforcement have their hands tied to be able to make that roadside decision when they encounter someone with a firearm, or whether or not that person has a permit, is no longer the threshold issue , and that has definitely changed law enforcement.”

Last Friday, Mears’ office backed out of a possible prosecution of a shooter who shot and killed a teenager in the Castleton Square Mall car park due to a conflict of interest.

A special prosecutor will be appointed to determine if the shooting was accidental.