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13 slayings in week put city on edge

Published August 9, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS - Marilyn Brooks and her two children didn't hear the gunshot that killed a teenage boy in an alley behind her home, but the slaying so traumatized her 9-year-old son that he spent the night at his grandmother's house and refused to return home the next morning.

Thirteen people have been killed in Indianapolis in less than a week - a wave of bloodshed that has alarmed residents and civic leaders and led to stepped-up police patrols in the city's trouble spots.

"It happened right outside my house - a boy died. When I heard about it, my heart just dropped to the ground," said Brooks, 39. "I've never had anything like that happen so close to me. My kids don't even want to go outside. What's going to happen next?"

Even before the rash of killings stunned the city of about 863,000, Indiana's capital was already on track for its bloodiest year since 1998, when 162 people died.

So far this year, 91 people have been killed in Indianapolis.

The mayor has called the string of killings since last Wednesday an "extreme emergency" similar to a natural disaster. Six of the slayings took place within 24 hours over the weekend. The latest killing was the stabbing early Tuesday of a 39-year-old man.

The killings have continued even as the Indianapolis police and Marion County Sheriff's Department have assigned more officers to the streets and extended their shifts by two hours, with some officers working up to 12 hours a day.

Police said there is no common thread to the 13 killings, though they said many of the victims and suspects were young men who grew up in poverty and had been involved with guns and drugs.

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