South Bend Police Dept. gives update on recent violence, crimes in city

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 11:07 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend Police Department held a press conference on Thursday morning to address recent violence and crimes across the city.

The department called the meeting before the shooting in the 700 block of Philippa Street took place on Wednesday night. In that shooting, a 25-year-old Gary man was killed and two others were sent to the hospital.

While police gave updates on that shooting during Thursday’s press conference, they initially wanted to talk about two other shootings that took place in the city over Easter weekend.

The first of those shootings took place early Saturday morning on Sancome Avenue near Lincoln Way West. A man was dropped off at the hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound in connection with that shooting.

Police say they located at least 130 shell casings in the area. They also say bullets struck at least nine cars and/or houses.

In the second shooting, police say Eddie Tyler IV, 24, of South Bend was shot and killed on Easter morning in the 200 block of S. Lafayette Boulevard.

A Niles man, identified as 28-year-old Marcus Hatcher, has since been charged with murder in connection with that shooting. According to charging documents, the shooting happened after an altercation between two parties in the parking lot shortly after they exited Finnie’s Pub.

Police say approximately 210 bullets were fired this weekend alone, but they want to remind you that it only takes one bullet to take a life.

“If this is guns and gangs and girls, it is people living in the moment,” said Capt. Jason Biggs of the South Bend Police Department. “It’s emotions taking over, and they don’t have the impulse to stop hurting somebody. They don’t have the impulse to just walk away from those fights. And we’ve seen a lot of this violence — especially over the weekend — of people living in the moment, letting their emotions take over, and then violence spills out into our city.”

If you have any information regarding the shooting on Sancome Avenue near Lincoln Way West, you are asked to call the South Bend Police Department at 574-235-9388 or Michiana Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP or 800-342-STOP or submit a tip online by clicking here.

Another big issue the department addressed was an increase in fights and disturbances breaking out at Howard Park, with five of them having been reported since the beginning of April.

At Thursday’s press conference, police shared some footage from two recent fights — the first happening on April 4, which involved multiple teens, and the latter happening on April 9.

In the blurred footage, multiple adults and park staff are seen attempting to break up the fight before officers arrived.

Officers regularly patrol downtown and heavy foot traffic areas, like Howard Park. Even though they are fully staffed, they say they do not have enough resources to patrol 24/7.

South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski did not mince words when discussing these youth-centered fights in public spaces.

“This park, and all of our parks are for everyone,” Ruszkowski said. “That’s what they were built for and beautified for — for everyone to enjoy and not to have hostile takeovers, which is commonly occurring specifically on the weekends.

“So, you’ll probably hear me say this many, many more times, but parents, you have to be in your kids’ business,” he continued. “Why you’re not is beyond me. The police, the parks department, doesn’t matter; we’re not babysitters. That’s your job. And you need to do your job, so we don’t have to do ours.”

At the press conference, police also provided updates after one firearm and one pellet gun were found in two separate South Bend schools earlier this week.

School officials at Riley High School located a handgun in the backpack of 16-year-old Kewuan Johnson. He is being charged as an adult with one count of unlawfully carrying a handgun, a level 5 felony that carries up to six years in prison.

Another weapon, a pellet gun that resembles a real pistol, was discovered in the possession of a 12-year-old student at Jackson Middle School. That student was taken to the Juvenile Justice Center.

Community activist and retired SBPD Officer Lynn Coleman had the following message for parents during the press conference.

“When these kids do this, where do they get this from?” Coleman asked. “They are modeling, oftentimes, what they see and what they’ve heard from somewhere else. We have to stop this. And if not, we all pay. And unfortunately, the debt can be a lot more than what we’re prepared to pay. For somebody to knock on your door and tell you that your son or daughter is now dead from some stupid act of violence.”

The South Bend Police Department says they believe they have discovered a connection between local high schools and the increase in youth violence and are actively investigating these cases.

You can rewatch the press conference in the video attached below:

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