The children at Bright Beginnings day care often take field trips to the Chuck E. Cheese a few doors down.
The proximity of the pizza chain restaurant full of arcade games makes for a natural outing for students, Bright Beginnings’ directors told IndyStar. Teachers load the children in “buggies” and walk them a short distance to the restaurant every three to four months.
Every day, families dropping off or picking up their children at the day care pass the kid-friendly pizza joint at 10001 East Washington St.
The day care was closed Sunday when the parking lot outside became yet another deadly Indianapolis location.
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Just before 5:30 pm Sunday gunfire from the strip mall’s parking lot ripped through the restaurant, shattering windows and fatally striking a man outside while parents rushed to shield their children inside. Videos taken by families show parents and children in disarray.
Employees at surrounding businesses on Monday described shattered glass spilled around the sidewalk and road. Police had not released information about a suspect, the man left dead in the parking lot or a motive behind the shooting as of Monday afternoon.
Leaders of Bright Beginnings said the reality of violence happening so close isn’t lost on them.
“It’s sad when you’re in the business of children and people bring dangerous situations to children’s front doors,” said Cherelle Young, the child care’s director. “First of all, it’s sad for the family of the man and awful for the safety of everyone around them.”
Young and her assistant director, Antoinette Clark, said they heard about the shooting Sunday night through Facebook but didn’t immediately know it was the Chuck E. Cheese near the day care. Not long later, staff members began to call and ask if the facility would be open Monday. Clark said she then checked the facility’s security cameras and saw the flashing blue and red lights outside.
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“This is the first time something crazy has happened around here,” Clark said. The assistant director has worked in the facility for eight out of the nine years the day care has been open. Clark and Young said the day care enrolls about 70 students and has a waiting list “as long as Washington Street” to get in.
Young and Clark said it’s difficult to say how the fatal shooting may affect their future with their strip mall neighbour. They are quick to say the violence is not related to the restaurant and its staff, but in the same breath, they say their students’ safety is a priority.
The women said no parents phoned in asking to pull their children from day care because of the shooting. They said Monday continued like it was “business as usual.” About mid-morning, the children could be heard playing music through the hallways.
“Our parents are very loyal,” Young said. “They know we’d never let anything happen.”
Young said their faith also keeps them from worrying.
“God covers and protects us,” she said.
Contact Sarah Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-503-7514.