INDIANAPOLIS — A series of overnight shootings following the Fourth of July holiday left at least one person dead and six others injured, including a juvenile.

Officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department were called to the 800 block of Eugene Street just after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, where they found a victim who had been hit by gunfire.

IMPD said their officers and detectives were working to determine what led up to this, but believe the boy was hit by a stray bullet while watching fireworks.

“The stories that have been given at this point don’t really add up to the evidence on the scene, so we’re not really sure what happened,” said IMPD Night Watch Commander Kerry Buckner. “We do know that guns were fired here in the street and he apparently was in the crossfire or in between the guns and got hit by a stray bullet.”

According to IMPD, the boy was rushed to the hospital, where he was immediately taken into surgery.

“We’re just hoping that the young man pulls through,” said Buckner.

Donnell Hamilton, president and coach with the Indy Steelers AYF, said the victim is one of his players in the program.

“We found out this morning that he was shot in the head during fireworks. It was devastating to us and our program,” said Hamilton.

While Hamilton said the boy has a long road ahead of him, he was at the hospital with him and his family earlier in the day, and shared that he is showing signs of improvement already.

“It’s devastating because I would never think that a young kid would have to go through something like that. He has so much life in him, a very hard worker, he’s a great kid,” Hamilton added. “He’s probably the hardest worker on the team; one of the most athletic kids that I know.”

Coaches with the Indy Steelers AYF work with young athletes to help them both on and off the field through mentorship, encouraging community service, and a teen work program through their partnership with the MLK Center. He said he’s helped coach the injured boy for more than two years on and off the field.

“It affects everyone, not only his family, it affects the kids, the coaches, it affects my family because he’s basically a part of my family,” said Hamilton. “We try to instill good, positive things into them and sometimes they can be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Hamilton said the boy is a leader both on and off the field and since he started with the Indy Steelers a few years ago, has shown significant signs of growth both personally and in his athletics.

“He’s grown over the past two years and I’m very proud of him. I can take him and put them in a drill with some of the little guys and he’ll run the drill,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton said they don’t know whether the boy will be able to play this season, but they’re getting a whistle ready so he can get in on the coaching action when he is able to come back to the field.

“It was supposed to be a big year for him. With him being 12, we have a pretty good 12-year-old division team, and he was one of the leaders on that team,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton is thankful that the boy survived his injuries and is continuing to fight to improve, but he said he also wants the community to consider the consequences actions can have on others, including innocent children.

“Everybody has to change their aspect of what’s going on out here. A lot of people don’t really know what some of these kids go through emotionally and you’re not only hurting the young person, you’re hurting their family, just everybody around them gets touched by gun violence,” said Hamilton.

He added, “You know, everybody on my team has been touched by gun violence and it’s like, man, it’s becoming, I wanna say it’s like a regular thing out here.”

This isn’t the first time that the Indy Steelers AYF program has been impacted after a player was injured or killed in a shooting. In 2015, 10-year-old Deshaun Swanson was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Butler-Tarkington area. His case still remains unsolved seven years later.

“We’ve been through many cases; Deshaun, we’ve had maybe six or seven cases like that,” said Hamilton. His cousin, who was also a coach in the program, was also murdered about two years ago in Indy.

“I just want to try to find a way to curb it and try to help these kids, so they don’t have to go through those type of things,” said Hamilton.

He believes the community also needs to do its part to protect children and each other.

“I think a lot of the times that we need to take heed is for us as adults and just start putting more time into the kids; really trying to teach them positive ways, and trying to find ways to change your mindset and their outlook on life, letting them know that you do have something to live for,” said Hamilton.

“The world is bigger than Indianapolis. You don’t have to go get a gun every time you get upset or anything like that,” he added.

Right now, the team, its parents and coaches are rallying around the boy as he works to recover from his injuries. On Tuesday, his teammates made him ‘get well soon’ signs, and look forward to welcoming him back when he is better.

IMPD has not announced any arrests in the case. They’re asking anyone with information on the Eugene Street shooting to call Crime Stoppers at (317) 262-TIPS (8477).

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