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Business owners, neighbors say canal is a safe place

INDIANAPOLIS — Four women were shot when two groups started shooting at each other across the canal early Wednesday morning. IMPD says the bullets were fired after some sort of argument between the two groups.

It happened about 12:20 a.m. when IMPD officers on bike patrol heard several shots fired off in the area of W. St. Clair Street. Police found four female shooting victims of the following ages: 17, 18, 23, and 24.

The shooting is near where a woman was killed along the canal in 2020, and the latest reason for some people to say the canal is unsafe.

Benjamin Conners has lived along the canal for the past three years. He heard the shots.

”It does make me feel a little less safe,” Conners said.

But, he said he still feels okay living along the canal.

”Usually in the day time, no worries, but in the nighttime it can be a bit worrisome,” Conners said.

Business owners we talked to along the canal agreed.

”I’ve never seen a gun on the canal during our business hours,” said Jeff Hutson, the owner of Old World Gondoliers.

Hutson and his company are going into their 19th season on the canal. His business is open past 9 p.m. on the weekends.

Hutson said the canal is perfectly safe during the day, and it’s just like anywhere else later into the night and early morning hours.

”You’re not safe anywhere out on the street at 12:30 to 3:30 in the morning,” Hutson said. “That’s when things happen, and yes they happen here, but they happen anywhere.”

Hutson said he’s talked to customers and others walking the canal about their concerns.

Fellow canal business owner Marc Dixon is also hearing from people. He owns Wheel Fun Rentals along the canal. They’re open till 10 p.m. on the weekends.

Dixon said comments on their Facebook posts recently have been very negative about the canal.

”Almost half of the comments now are, ‘Make sure to bring your bullet proof vest,’” Dixon said.

He said the people who think that have never actually been to the canal.

”I really don’t feel unsafe at the canal at all,” Dixon said. “Especially during the day.”

Last summer, the city added additional lights, cameras and police patrols along the canal. 

Both Dixon and Hutson said they’ve noticed.

”The police check in on us when we’re closing at night,” Hutson said.

”We’ve noticed quite a few more patrols on that area right around us,” Dixon said.

But Hutson said stopping violent crime on the canal is a group effort, it can’t just be solved by extra security measures. 

”We’re having a conversation about what we can do as a community together, it’s not about placing blame on anyone,” he said.

IMPD is asking you to call police or Crime Stoppers if you know anything about the shooting at the canal or recognize anyone in this picture from a security camera along the canal. Police believe these were the people involved in the shooting.

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