Six Shootings in South Bend After Buttigieg Town Hall

'We knew they were shooting at the cops'

June 24, 2019

Only hours after Mayor Pete Buttigieg hosted a contentious town hall addressing police violence toward the black community, six shootings occurred in South Bend, Ind.

One person was killed and 10 were injured after a shooter opened fire at Kelly's Pub, in the night's most deadly event. The shooting occurred very early Sunday morning, ABC 57 reported.

"We were just sitting on the couch and all of a sudden we heard 10 to 15 gunshots at first we didn't quite know what it was, but it became obvious pretty quickly that it was gunshots," a witness told ABC 57. "So we kind of like just got down for a second and made sure everything was alright, but we took a peek out the window after everything settled down and saw people starting to run and some screaming."

In another incident, a man was seen walking through a neighborhood and targeting police officers. Witnesses told ABC 57 that the shooting began after a party got out of control and police showed up to shut it down.

"Everybody was leaving and the next thing we hear is gunshots. And all the cops are down here. The gunshots are coming from that way. When they started shooting from that way, bullets are whistling past people heads. Everyone is just trying to make sure everyone is okay, just get in the house, make sure they didn't get hit or anything. Really, that's all," the witness said. "We knew they were shooting at the cops."

This surge in violence, which came after a white SBPD officer shot a 54-year-old black man last week, prompted Saint Joseph County Sheriff Bill Redman to release a statement appealing for peace in South Bend.

"I strongly encourage the citizens of St. Joseph county to continue meeting peacefully and voice their concerns peacefully and not with acts of violence," he wrote. "We cannot solve violence with violence! What I am asking today is that we STOP the violence! STOP the shootings! Our community has suffered enough. The problem will only get better when law enforcement and our community work together."

The night of violence came only hours after Buttigieg attempted to heal communal divisions at a town hall where he listened to questions from South Bend's black community. But instead of healing, Buttigieg met harsh criticism.

"Get the people that are racist off the streets," one woman yelled at him. "Reorganize your department. You can do that by Friday."

Buttigieg defended himself, saying that he has "taken a lot of steps" to reduce racial violence in the city and reform a police department that is 90 percent white.

But the steps Buttigieg has taken since taking office in 2012 have been largely ineffective. Early in his term, Buttigieg demoted the popular black police chief Darryl Boykins, in a move which the mayor would later regret as his "first serious mistake." Ron Teachman, the man with whom Buttigieg replaced Boykins, resigned in 2015, amid repeated accusations of discrimination from black police officers.

At the same time, one of Buttigieg's flagship programs, the South Bend Group Violence Intervention commission, has failed to reduce the numbers of shootings in the city, with the number of people injured or killed remaining constant since Buttigieg instituted the program in 2013.