Mall violence among teens causes concern after Circle Center, Lafayette Square incidents

Group, city discussing safe havens for teens

INDIANAPOLIS - Weekend violence at two Indianapolis malls sent shoppers running for cover.

On Friday, a 15-year-old was arrested after he allegedly fired three to four shots inside Lafayette Square Mall. Then on Saturday, four people, including three teens, were arrested for a melee after they were escorted out of Circle Center Mall.

"I don't know what's happening and why these kids are out and why they're doing these things and where they're getting these weapons," said Greenwood resident Charity Cross.

Lafayette Square Mall has been the scene of violence before, but neighborhood activists say that now, that's the exception.

"Those things are frustrating and difficult, but they're not our story," said Mary Chalmers, with the Lafayette Square Area Coalition.

Groups that work to stop violence among teens point to lots of reasons for fights and shootings at malls, and chief among them is the ease of getting a gun for kids as young as 14.

Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition blames a culture that promotes and glorifies violence -- absentee parents and guns. On a typical weekend night, as many as 700 teens can be found at Circle Center Mall.

"They're down there because there's no place to go and that's the hang out," Harrison said. "That's where all the action is. You have kids going there and they take the problems they're dealing with in their neighborhoods, downtown."

Harrison says he's been in discussions with the city to open safe havens for teens where they can hang out on weekends in a safe place.

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