FORT WAYNE – Brittany Arnett's 34-year-old husband died Tuesday afternoon, shot dead inside a home in the 3800 block of Oliver Street.
While Daniel W. Arnett's death marked the county's 44th homicide, tying a record set in 1997, for his wife and his three children, what matters is life now without him.
"He was just a big-hearted man," she said tearfully. "He was there to help with whatever, always doing things."
On Wednesday, the Allen County Coroner's Office declared his death a homicide, caused by gunshots.
He did not live in the house at 3804 Oliver St. where he was killed. The little gray house near the corner of Oliver Street and Rudisill Boulevard belonged to a friend.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and said two men fled the scene in a maroon van. No arrests had been made as of Wednesday evening. He was taken to Lutheran Hospital in critical condition and died shortly afterward.
A hard worker, Dan Arnett owned two tree-trimming services and rental properties, his wife said.
"He was such a loving father and a devoted husband," she said. "He just wanted a good life."
With one child of his own when they met 12 years ago, Dan and Brittany Arnett had two additional children. The three are ages 6, 10 and 14.
As a teenager, he was indicted for criminal gang activity, along with four other youths accused of beating up a man in Woodburn in 1995.
The case was later dismissed.
Since then, though, Arnett's life was largely free of run-ins with the law.
"He turned his whole life around when he met me," Brittany Arnett said. "That's what everybody said. He turned his whole life around, just for me."
She said no one knows who shot him or why.
"It's just nuts," she said Wednesday of the events of the past day.