A 17-year-old boy accused of opening fire on a crowded street during the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration and wounding nine people appeared in court Monday, where a judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to charges that could land him in prison much of his life.
The boy, whom The Associated Press is not identifying because he is a minor, was shackled and dressed in black during the hearing in Marion County Superior Court. Judge Carol Orbison entered not guilty pleas on the boy's behalf to the 14 charges against him, including battery, criminal recklessness and criminal gang activity. The case was waived to adult court because of the gang charge, prosecutor Carl Brizzi said.
The July 17 shootings stemmed from a confrontation between two gangs, according to a probable cause statement.
Brizzi said the teen was a known gang member. "This incident was fueled by gang activity," he told reporters after the hearing.
Brizzi said the teen could face 104 to 117 years in prison if a court finds the shootings were gang-related. Even without that added penalty, he could face up to 80 years in prison.
The shootings started about 9:30 p.m. as several hundred young people gathered along the streets outside the Circle Centre Mall. Court documents described how bystanders fled upon hearing the gunshots, only to feel burning pain as they were hit. Most injuries were minor, but a bullet shattered the femur in one 18-year-old man's leg.
A second shooting occurred nearby minutes later and left one 16-year-old boy wounded. That youth told police that the suspect walked up behind him and called out his name before shooting him in the knees and back.
Police said an unrelated third shooting occurred around 11:30 p.m. and left another man wounded.
None of the shootings occurred at venues playing host to Black Expo activities, but police patrolling amid the crowd moving about the downtown area quickly converged on the scene.
Barbara Turentine, the 17-year-old's mother, said after the hearing that she believed her son was innocent but that she understood what the victims and their parents were going through because her son had been shot before.
The teen was jailed on $250,000 bond, though his attorney asked the court to reduce his bond or have him released on his own recognizance. A bond reduction hearing was set for Aug. 4. His trial was scheduled for Oct. 4.
Defense attorney Eugene Hollander also asked Orbison to issue a gag order, saying the case already had received "extensive publicity."
"We're trying to take this case back into the courtroom," he said.
Orbison set a hearing on the gag order for Friday, and instructed Brizzi to restrict his comments to what was in the public record.
"We're not going to try this case in the press, obviously," Orbison said.
In a brief interview with reporters after the hearing, Brizzi limited his comments to what was in court documents, but said he didn't agree with the idea of a gag order.