Police chief: Tips led to skipping shooter arrest

INDIANAPOLIS - Police are crediting tips from the public in the arrest of the alleged gunman caught on surveillance video skipping away from the scene of the fatal shooting of an Indianapolis convenience store clerk.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Rick Hite said Thursday "the joint efforts of investigators and community tips led to the capture" 22-year-old Desi Thomas of Indianapolis in the unprovoked June 4 shooting of 45-year-old Harry Briggs during a robbery at Joe's Junction on the city's southwest side. Briggs died three days later. A second clerk and two customers were not injured.

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Police said the public provided more than 100 tips to police and they investigated 70 suspects. Court documents also revealed that multiple people told police that Thomas admitted to the robbery.

According to court documents, a key piece of evidence was a shoe that Thomas used to prop open the door of the store during the incident. There were no fingerprints on the shoe, but detectives said it was vital to their case.

Police say Thomas faces formal charges of murder, felony murder and robbery. He's being held without bond. Online court records show Thomas does not yet have an attorney. He faces an initial hearing Friday.

Victim's friends react to news of arrest

Surveillance video released by police showed that Briggs was trying to comply when the robber demanded money, but the robber got impatient waiting for the register to open.

After taking the money, the suspect was seen on surveillance video "skipping" away from the business, east on Troy, police said.

"I just feel like his life was taken for a petty few hundred dollars, and then for the guy to skip away like nothing ever happened, it was just disgusting," co-worker Jessica Cook said.

Briggs' co-workers said they had been sad and uneasy since he was killed. They kept his picture up behind the counter as they waited for word of an arrest.

They said detectives delivered the news of an arrest Wednesday evening and it was a huge relief.  

"Happy, like everyone up here has been happy. There's people up here, we've been crying, just a relief, we feel like he can finally rest in peace," Cook said.

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