On July 5, 2014, at approximately 9:24 p.m., Officer Perry W. Renn, 51, and Officer Nicholas Gallico responded to an anonymous 911 call to report shots fired near the intersection of East 34th Street and Forest Manor Avenue. Officers Renn and Gallico encountered Major Davis, Jr., 25, in an alley nearby. Four minutes later, at 9:28 p.m., the call went to dispatchers for an officer down.
Officer Gallico originally found a party/family gathering in a yard near the intersection. Officer Gallico got out of his car and saw three people, including Davis and two women. One of the women told the officer everything was okay.
When Officers Gallico and Renn reached Davis’ location, they saw he was armed with an assault rifle. Additional back up was called to the scene.
Before backup officers could arrive, Davis fired his assault rifle at Officer Renn. Both officers exchanged gunfire with Davis. Officer Renn and Davis were both shot. One round from Davis’ assault rifle penetrated Officer Renn’s protective vest. The investigation showed the gun battle last mere seconds.
Medics transported Officer Renn to Eskenazi Hospital. Police blocked exits on I-65 to allow Officer Renn to be transported to the hospital quickly. Officer Renn died later that night.
Davis was initially pronounced dead at the scene, but he was revived before also being transported to Eskenazi Hospital to undergo surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. Davis was listed in critical condition after the surgery. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry formally charged Davis with murder on July 9th. On August 19th, Prosecutor Curry filed the paperwork to seek the death penalty against Davis.
Officer Renn's family members gathered at Eskenazi Hospital, along with Mayor Greg Ballard, Marion County Public Safety Director Troy Riggs and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Rick Hite, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. “Not only was this officer attacked, but this city was attacked,” Director Riggs said.
Officer Renn, a 22 year City of Indianapolis employee, with 18 months as a dispatcher/control operator before joining the former Indianapolis Police Department in December of 1993. He worked as a street patrol officer on East and North Districts his entire career. Officer Renn was awarded the Medal of Bravery in 1999 and 2003, and he received a Letter of Commendation in 2012 for his work during the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage rigging collapse. “A fine, brave officer. His family should be proud of him. We should be proud of him,” Chief Hite said. The department posthumously awarded Officer Renn the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart.
This was a particularly dangerous time for IMPD officers. Thirty-one IMPD officers were involved in violent confrontations in the nine months prior to Officer Renn’s death. Troy Riggs said eight officers were shot in the prior 18 months, with a total of 22 officer shot at during that time.
Strong community support followed in the days after Officer Renn’s death. His patrol car was adorned with flowers as it stood outside IMPD's North District Headquarters. In between the flowers was a note. "Perry, you will be missed friend," the note said. "Thank you for your sacrifice."
Officer Renn’s funeral was held at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. He was laid to rest in the Heroes of Public Safety section at Crown Hill Cemetery.
Officer Renn worked as a dispatcher before he became a police officer. Before that, he spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. Officer Renn was also an avid a dog lover who was always seen walking his two Australian Shepherds. His wife, Lynn Sappenfield-Renn, asked for donations in Officer Renn’s name be made to the Best Friends Animal Society and the Indianapolis Police Foundation.
One of Davis’ family members created an uproar in the police community when she said Officer Renn should have stayed in his police car when he saw Davis with a rifle. IMPD and FOP 86 started an “I will always get out of my car” t-shirt campaign to show IMPD officers resolve.
Amazingly, over 11,000 t-shirts were sold in 47 states and four countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and France by the end of August 2014. The campaign also spawned photos and videos from around the country posted on social media of law enforcement officers pledging to get out of their cars.
Sources: Lynn Sappenfield-Renn, The Indianapolis Star, WTHR Channel 13, WISH TV Channel 8, WXIN Channel 59, WTHR Channel 6, WIBC Radio 93.1, IMPD Public Information Office.