Veterans organization taking steps to increase security further
As told to Jeanie Summerville
Special to Frost Illustrated
EDITOR’S NOTE: On June 9, Fort Wayne resident Jabron Totton tragically was murdered in the parking lot of American Legion Post 148 at the corner of East Lewis Street and East Hanna Street. While the incident happened outside the Legion and after the veteran’s organization was closed, Post Commander Jesse Booker told Frost Illustrated special reporter Jeanie Summerville that he and post leadership and members want to do what is necessary to keep people safe not only inside but also outside. Their commitment and concern, he explained in an exclusive interview with Ms. Summerville, is for the safety and well-being of the entire community. And while the post has been relatively trouble-free for many years and the recent tragedy was a horrible but isolated incident there, American Legion Post 148, said Booker, already is taking steps to do whatever it can to increase security in the area. The following are Commander Booker’s own words as told to Jeanie Summerville:
“I’m Jesse Booker the Commander of the American Legion Post 148 and the incident that happened here, in itself, was just something that happened. I’ve talked with a number of people about this incident and it’s something that we couldn’t control, it just happened. And as far as I’m concerned, I’m going to leave it up to the proper authorities to get it solved. I’ve talked with the victim’s parents and we know what happened but we don’t know why it happened. And, as far as the victim’s parents, they want closure.
“Jabron was a figure here at the American Legion and he was always here from Thursday through Sunday nights with his friends and he was never a problem and we were also friends. As a matter of fact, I know the family personally and I sat down with them on several occasions since the incident and they’re really understanding people. And we’re all GOD-fearing people and we come from the same background and the same church, Christ Temple, and that’s where Jabron was laid to rest at in peace. But, they want closure and we do too because it’s a terrible and senseless loss and the American Legion Post 148 is very sorry about the whole incident. That’s not what we’re about.
“We anticipate people coming out to enjoy themselves with us and everything but it’s totally sad and totally senseless that another person took another person’s life over something that’s meaningless and our condolences go out to his family. I know the family personally and I’ve sat down with them on numerous occasions and we’re showing love to the family and the family is showing love back and they know that anything we can do to appease this situation we’re willing to do so.
“In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen again there will be more lighting outside but the lighting is really going to have to come from the city because we’ve got poles out here that we’ve been on the city about getting this taken care of but it hasn’t been done yet. We’re also going to have more infrastructure around the building as well and we’re going to really be on top of security by increasing it and we’re going to have rolling patrols and we’re going to do a lot and we’re on top of it. This incident might have been a wake up call, but we were on top of it before but you just can’t predict what happens.
“There should be no fear at all for you to come back to this Legion because we’re beefing up security and you’re well protected. This was just one incident that happened after we closed and it happened in the parking lot, not on the inside and the police and everyone here that’s part of the Legion knows exactly what happened because we have surveillance cameras and everything else, and you’re well protected and safe here. I’ve been doing this for the past eight years and we have a good crew here. And, I have an excellent board and maybe I didn’t come out and speak my mind right off the bat but that was because I was kind of hesitant, as far as making a statement about what happened here, and I apologize for that. But I was with the family since the inception, so all I can say now is that I’m making this statement now only in Frost Illustrated.
“This is really one of the best posts in the 4th District and we have 32 post and we’re the only minority post and we run 100 percent on membership every year and we donate thousands of dollars to the community through scholarships and different organizations every year. We’re a viable fixture in the community and we’re going to be here. We made a stamp and it’s signed, sealed and delivered.
“So far this year, Fort Wayne has had 23 or 24 homicides and this is just half of the year and I think that from last year as a whole we only had 30. And with this number being what it is now, they’re at a record breaking pace and I don’t know what’s going on. Whether it’s the gang activity but these are young folks and I’m not taking anything away from Jabron because he’d come here and talk with me about everything because he was like a son or a nephew. He was an excellent person and he had good manners and at his services he was well represented and was well respected and well liked in the community. So he’s definitely going to be missed, and I miss him already and I know that people grieve in various ways and the American Legion Post 148 is here for you, and if we need to do something or establish something for his children we can put that in place. Because I would love to do something for them even though we’re limited in some aspects of what we can do, but anything we can do to help out the family just contact us and let us know what you want. Because we want him to be remembered and like I said that’s something senseless and should not have happened anyway. But we really want to be a part of being a fixer or being the solution and we’re on top of it.”