GARY, Ind. — It’s been a violent start to the new year in Northwest Indiana. So far there have been 10 homicides in just two weeks.
Ten people have been killed in the region.
The killings have spanned from East Chicago to Merillville to Portage and Laporte counties, but six of those killings have been in Gary, a city that was known as the nation’s murder capital in the 1990’s.
Violent crime has been reduced in recent years, but last year saw a disturbing spike in homicides. In 2019, 58 people were killed, a jump from the 40 killings recorded in 2018.
Long-time resident James O’Neal blames the problem of violent crime on both jobs and families moving out of the city and crime filling the void.
“All the murders being here bare probably from the people from Chicago that’s moved over here,” he said.
The region’s victims have ranged from 47-year-old Joseph Clopton whose body was found in a Laporte County pond, to 44-year-old Betty Claudio, who police say was strangled by her boyfriend Keenan McCain. McCain was shot and killed in a standoff with police.
Gary’s mayor, just two weeks into his new administration, was not available for an interview with WGN News Thursday, but he’s grappling with seemingly intractable issues of poverty and population loss.
For resident Nathaniel Edge, solutions remain elusive.
“There’s a lot of businesses that have moved out of Gary and there’s no opportunity for young people and leads them to selling drugs,” he said. “It’s sad to see so many people getting hurt off senseless violence.”