INDIANAPOLIS – An argument between siblings over whether the brother should be paying to stay at his sister’s house led to a deadly shooting, police say.
Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers responded to the 8700 block of Hosta Way around 6:10 p.m. Wednesday after receiving an incomplete 911 call in which the caller said he’d shot his sister in self-defense.
When police arrived, they found 37-year-old Ashlee Atkins had been shot. She was pronounced dead at the scene; police took her brother, 30-year-old Krystopher Monroe, into custody for questioning.
Some of Atkins’ four children were inside the home when it happened, police said.
The oldest child, a teenager, told police his mother and uncle had been arguing, waking him up. He gathered his younger siblings and suggested they go outside to get away from the argument.
He and one of his siblings rode their bikes and then came back home; the two were still arguing. He “heard two loud bangs and then it got quiet.”
He went around the back of the house, kicked in the back door and went into the garage, where he saw his uncle holding a shotgun while his mother lay on the floor bleeding, according to court documents.
His uncle, Monroe, yelled at him to leave, the teen said, adding that he heard his uncle say, “Ashlee, are you dead?”
Scared for his brothers and himself, the teen led them to a neighbor’s house to get help and call police. The teen said his uncle panicked and “looked like he regretted what happened,” according to court documents.
He also called his stepfather to report what happened, telling him that “Uncle had shot Mom.”
“I don’t have words,” the mother of the suspect and victim Phyllis Walker said. “All I can say is maybe my son snapped, because both of them we going through a lot and that’s why they were arguing in the first place.”
Phyllis said she is heartbroken her son is accused of killing her daughter.
“They had a good relationship,” Walker said. “They’ve had sibling rivalry all their lives, but nothing like this.”
Another of Atkins’ sons said he was upstairs playing video games when he heard his mother and uncle arguing “about his uncle not paying to stay at [Atkins’] home.” As the argument continued, the teen heard Monroe say, “You not gonna do nothing,” followed by two loud bangs.
He went downstairs and saw Monroe with a shotgun. Monroe told him to go outside, where the teen found his brothers.
During an interview with police, Monroe said he and his sister had been arguing “for a few hours.” He claimed he tried “several times” to get away, but she kept following him. He planned to leave, he told police, but realized he’d left his wallet in the garage and went to retrieve it.
Although Monroe initially claimed he acted in self-defense, he later told police he tried to walk past his sister when the shotgun accidentally went off.
“Those are logically inconsistent, but you can present those defenses to a jury,” said attorney Jack Crawford.
Attorney Crawford isn’t connected to the case, but said if it winds up in court there’s no restriction on presenting conflicting defenses.
“There’s no legal impediment to presenting alternative and inconsistent theories of defense,” Crawford said. “You can say it was self-defense or you did it by accident and let the jury decide.”
In Monroe’s account, he retrieved his wallet as well as his shotgun and a backpack. He told police he was trying to walk past his sister when she “came towards him.” He maintained the gun “went off accidentally,” according to court documents. He then said he pumped the shotgun to chamber another round and the “shotgun went off a second time.”
Whatever his defense, the family will clearly never be the same.
“They’d always argue, but then they’d get back together and they loved each other, so I don’t know what happened,” said Walker.
The Marion County Coroner’s Office said Atkins died from gunshot wounds and ruled her death a homicide. Police arrested Monroe on a preliminary murder charge.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will make a final charging decision.