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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:15 am

Police shooting victim a 'good guy,' troubled

Chris Meyers | The Journal Gazette

To his neighbors and friends, he was Tony, a generally good guy who would help when needed – but he could also have a temper.

The side with the temper is what Fort Wayne police said they encountered Saturday night at Anthony W. Hodge’s house.

City police who arrived at Hodge’s home in northwest Fort Wayne said he answered the door armed with a handgun. He wouldn’t drop it and officers opened fire, killing the 46-year-old in his home at 2512 St. Marys Ave.

The Allen County Coroner's Office identified Hodge Monday morning as the man police shot.

Neighbor Chad Barbetta was on his front porch throughout Saturday night's ordeal.  

"I was in shock," Barbetta said Sunday afternoon from that same front porch.

The scene around his home was in stark contrast from the previous night when police marked off the 2400 and 2500 blocks of St. Marys Avenue between Goshen Road and West State Boulevard.

Gone were the flashing red and blue police lights, and the throngs of officers and detectives. In their place was a lone police car parked in front of Hodge’s home to keep watch. The only police tape that remained was a small section across the front steps to Hodge’s home and tattered remnants tied to street signs and light poles.

Barbetta lived next to Hodge for about 13 years, cooking out and hanging out at small bonfires in the backyard.

"He was a good guy, â ¦ He’d do anything for you," Barbetta said.

But Hodge could also have a temper, evidenced by a swollen knuckle on Barbetta’s right hand where he recently punched Hodge during an argument.  And Saturday was not the first time police had been called to the home, neighbors said.

Barbetta and two friends who sat with him but declined to be identified all agreed that Hodge was a decent guy who could be difficult to deal with at times. 

Barbetta said he heard Hodge yell a vulgarity up the street at the person with whom he’d been in an argument earlier that prompted the police to come to the area. Officers were called about 9:45 p.m. to a home in the 2400 block of St. Marys Avenue on a report of a disturbance with a person who was armed with a handgun, according to the Fort Wayne Police Department.

Not long after, two police officers arrived at Hodge’s home.

"He came to the door with a gun and the cops told him three times to drop it," Barbetta said.

Then came the gunshots – four of them by Barbetta’s count, but he heard from other people there were five shots. He said he was too in shock to keep track.

"It’s sad, but if a cop tells you to put the gun down, then put it down," he said, adding that Hodge was married and had an adult son.

Police did not say whether Hodge, who was white, pointed the gun at officers or threatened them with it.

A police spokesman said Saturday night that he did not know whether anyone else was in the house at the time of the shooting.

Hodge was charged in February 2009 with failure to stop after an automobile wreck and two counts of resisting law enforcement. He pleaded guilty in August of that year to one felony count of resisting law enforcement, and the other charges were dismissed.

In July 2013, he was charged with a felony count of intimidation with the use of a deadly weapon. The charge was dismissed the following month.

Barbetta and the others with him Sunday said the most recent case involved threatening a nearby resident with a gun.

Police department officials could not be reached for comment Sunday as to administrative procedures that take place after an officer is involved with a shooting.

cmeyers@jg.net