The 43-year-old man found shot dead in a parked car Saturday afternoon on Fort Waynes near-northwest side has been identified as co-owner of a tree service company.
Jerry W. Barker, a city resident, was pronounced dead in the 900 block of Herman Street, near Sherman Boulevard, according to the Allen County Coroners Office.
Police said a neighbor heard a gunshot, looked outside and saw a man running east, away from a gray sedan. Officers were sent to the block about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and they found Barker bleeding as he sat in the drivers seat of the idling sedan, police said.
The coroners office confirmed that Barker died from a gunshot wound or wounds. His death is the countys 19th homicide this year.
Barker grew up in Fort Wayne and graduated from Wayne High School. He and his brother, Kenny, owned Top Notch Tree Service, his family said.
He worked with me every day, cutting trees, Kenny Barker said.
His brother described him as a gentle, caring man. He would help anybody anytime – just a wonderful person, his brother said.
Barker and his girlfriend had been together since 1999. He had one child, three stepchildren and three grandchildren.
He was a huge family man, loved his family, loved his grandbabies, his sister-in-law Victoria Miller said. Thats pretty much his life was his grandbabies.
Allen Superior Court records show that Barker had some run-ins with the law. In 1996, he was convicted of dealing cocaine and dealing a controlled substance. In 2010, he was convicted of two felony counts of marijuana possession.
Police believe the man seen running from the sedan Saturday was the shooter, but they cannot say for sure because they do not have an eyewitness to the killing. No arrests have been made.
A description of the man who fled the scene was not released. No one reported seeing him carrying a gun, and no weapons were recovered, police said.
The car had not been parked on the street for long, and the drivers side window was broken when officers arrived, police said.