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Hostage standoff

Police Chief Rusty York discusses Wednesday's fatal shooting and stand-off.

Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Officers work the scene of a shooting at the intersection of East Pettit Avenue and Reed Street on Wednesday morning.

Community can’t avoid crime scenes

Officers return after searching a home that was the last known address of Kenneth Knight in the 4100 block of Richfield Lane on Wednesday morning.

– When Kenneth Knight shot Jacqueline Hardy to death on a city sidewalk Wednesday morning, he did so in front of dozens of Citilink bus passengers and children on their way to school.

His decision ended a typical morning commute and pulled those witnesses into his violence.

Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said the shooting occurred before the district’s elementary schools began classes for the day, so there were a number of students on their way to school in the area of East Pettit Avenue and Reed Street.

“Some kids did see it,” Stockman said.

As soon as news of the shooting reached the administration, the district called the Bowen Center and asked for counselors to come and work with students if it was needed.

The district’s elementary schools do not have trained mental health counselors, Stockman said.

The plan is to have the counselors on hand today as well, she said.

Children may not realize yet what they saw Wednesday morning, or parents may become concerned about their students over the next few days, and Stockman urged parents to contact their schools if they needed any help.

Knight’s flight into another neighborhood exposed more children to the danger as the day wore on.

Knight barricaded himself inside a home in the 3000 block of Holton Avenue – along with a 3-year-old.

As with the morning shooting, police were swarming an area at nearly the precise time that elementary students would be heading out, this time for home.

Stockman said the district kept as many students as possible late at the schools, particularly the elementary schools. Two of those schools, Irwin and Weisser Park, are near the Holton Avenue house where Knight was barricaded.

District officials asked some parents to come and pick up their students, but some parents were inside the cordoned-off area near the Holton Avenue house and could not come to the schools, she said.

“We just made sure that all of our schools were aware, that they had extra people out,” she said, adding that the district’s transportation personnel knew where children could be or couldn’t be dropped off as the day unfolded.

For the Citilink passengers who were headed to their jobs or to their own classes and riding the same bus as Knight and Hardy, they found themselves witnesses to a crime.

Citilink General Manager Kenneth Housden said police took the bus driver and passengers to police headquarters for interviews.

Along Route 3, which went to Canterbury via IPFW, there were passengers waiting for a bus that was not soon to arrive.

Housden said as soon as Citilink became aware of the shooting, it sent another bus to the area to complete Route 3.

“There was a bit of a lag, so we apologize to anyone waiting,” he said.

Service since then continued normally.

“Here at Citilink, we value the safety of our passengers and employees, and our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the individual who lost her life this morning,” Housden said.

“That’s a real, heartfelt thing – our prayers are with her.”