FORT WAYNE—The talk was predictable at the gas station Thursday morning.
Folks were talking about the sister who was dragged of the bus Wednesday morning and shot to death right out by the school by her ex-boyfriend, who had recently gotten out of prison. Police snipers subsequently shot the alleged perpetrator to death as he held a three-year-old child hostage in a house not far from the spot where he killed his former girlfriend.
A sister working at the gas station said she knew both of the people who had been killed. In fact, she had gone to school with the man who had done the initial killing. Sister said a close relative of the victim told her the woman had just filed a protection order against the man because he had told the woman he was going to kill her, her mother and her children.
A brother standing near the pastries, waiting to get in line, kept shaking his head.
“Negativity, negativity in the mind. It’s got these people,” he said.
Talk turned to the picture of the little boy being carried from the house by police officers.
“Man, they didn’t need to put that little boy’s picture all over the paper like that. Bad enough he had to see that man killed in front of him. Family doesn’t need to be reminded of that mess,” said someone.
“More negativity,” said the man standing by the brownies. “I’m telling you, negativity in the mind is the problem.”
Sixth shooting in seven days; 12 killed already this year, including two shot by the police in criminal investigation incidents. That’s what the statistics said. The human losses read:
• March 14—Demarcus Adams found dying in the 2200 block of McKee Street. According to reports, a vehicle pulled up next to the car in which Adams was found and someone inside fired multiple rounds, killing Adams. Sadly, Adams, who had just been shot on Feb. 15, died in his mother’s arms.
• March 15—Mark Young apparently was shot during an argument in a car in which he was riding and was pushed out of the car into the street in the 3400 block of Reed Street. Officials declared him dead later at the hospital.
• March 16—Jordan D. Williams was shot at a home when he answered the door in the 4500 block of Bowser Avenue. A complaining party called at approximately 3:58 a.m. to report hearing multiple gunshots. Police arrived and found Williams severely wounded. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition.
• March 19—Gerrelle Borum was shot to death in the early afternoon while walking along W. Rudisill Boulevard near Indiana Avenue. Thanks to tips from alert and responsive witnesses, police arrested Josiah C. Thomas shortly afterward as the suspect in the murder.
• March 20—Jacqueline Hardy was shot to death after reportedly being dragged off a public bus at E. Pettit Avenue and Reed Street. The alleged shooter, Kenneth Knight, reportedly fled to a house in the 3000 block of Holton Street where he took a three-year-old child hostage. Police snipers shot and killed Knight after he refused to surrender.
Officials are talking. The mayor, police chief and others are saying the city, for the most part, is safe, despite the recent rash of shootings, while others, including some City Council members, are expressing concern. Others are meeting and brainstorming; some are meeting and wringing their hands. The talk in the neighborhood is a bit different—angry and frank. It’s a given that folks are tired of the killings. And, it’s a given that some folks—other than traditionally recognized “leaders”—have some pointed opinions about what is happening and what can be done. Not to discount those important traditional voices—especially a moving effort to gather the community initiated by the Fort Wayne Urban League, but in this issue of Frost Illustrated, we want to allow a number of those other voices to share their perspective on the recent tragedies of violence in Fort Wayne. Their words can be found throughout the pages of this week’s edition of the newspaper.