INDIANAPOLIS – A 17-year-old Indianapolis boy accused of fatally shooting his father, stepmother, two teenage relatives and a heavily pregnant 19-year-old woman was charged with six counts of murder Thursday, according to a prosecutor and court documents.
Raymond Ronald Lee Childs III, who was arrested Monday in the shootings a day earlier, was charged as an adult, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced. One of the six murder counts was in the death of the unborn baby, Mears said.
“Not only did so many people lose their lives but you think about that family and what they were anticipating — the baby was due in a week,” Mears said during a news conference.
Childs also faces an attempted murder charge in the wounding of another relative, a 15-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of the shooting on Indianapolis’ near northeast side, according to court records. He was also charged with carrying a handgun without a license.
In Indiana, a person at least 16 years of age will be charged as an adult if they are accused of committing certain felonies, including murder and attempted murder.
During his initial hearing on Thursday afternoon, a magistrate entered a not guilty plea for Childs, ordered him held without bond and appointed a public defender. The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from that attorney.
Childs had argued with his father about him sneaking out of the house, Mears said. Authorities were still trying to determine what happened between the late night argument and the shootings reported around 4 a.m. Sunday.
Raymond Childs Jr., his wife, Kezzie Childs, 42, and two other relatives — Elijah Childs, 18, and Rita Childs, 13 — were pronounced dead at the home, the Marion County Coroner’s office said. Kiara Hawkins, 19, who Mears said was in a relationship with someone at the home, was taken to a hospital, where she and her unborn son died, authorities said.
Mears said in a news release that Raymond Childs Jr. was the suspect's father and Kezzie Childs was his stepmother. He didn't explain the relationships between the other victims.
According to a probable cause affidavit, relatives and friends told police that Hawkins was Elijah Childs’ girlfriend and that she also lived at the home.
The 15-year-old boy who survived the shooting told police that Raymond Childs III is his brother and that his sibling shot him as he fled the house to escape the gunfire, the affidavit states. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and underwent surgery.
He also told police that his mother, father, his brother, Elijah Childs, and his younger sister, identified only as “R.C." in the affidavit, were in the house along with Hawkins when the shooting began.
The teen told officers that Childs “had gotten in trouble that night for leaving the house without permission."
The suspect's girlfriend told police he was spending the night with her on Jan. 23 when his father called and asked him to come home, according to the affidavit. Childs left but returned between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Jan. 24 with bags of clothing and some shoes, telling her “his father had kicked him out.”
About half an hour later, she received two cellphone alerts about a shooting, with the second alert saying a shooting had occurred on the street where Childs’ family resides. She said Childs told her he knew nothing about that shooting, but later that morning when they went to his family's home “he began crying" and acting like “a clown.”
Mears said two firearms were used in the shootings. A 9-millimeter handgun was recovered at the scene and a semi-automatic firearm was found when Childs was taken into custody at a relative's home. According to the affidavit, detectives determined that both weapons had been fired inside the home where the killings occurred.
Indianapolis police Chief Randal Taylor has called the killings the largest mass casualty shooting in the city in more than a decade. He said in a statement Thursday that he was grateful to his officers, Mears and the prosecutor's staff for their work on the case, and he urged the community to rally around the surviving teenager “as he must come to terms with unimaginable loss."
This story has been corrected to show that Raymond Ronald Lee Childs III is accused of shooting his father, stepmother, two teenage relatives and a pregnant woman who was in a relationship with someone in the home, not that he is accused of fatally shooting his parents, two teenage siblings and his 18-year-old brother’s pregnant girlfriend, based on information released by prosecutors.