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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 4:38 pm

Stray bullet ends life of dad

Rebecca S. Green The Journal Gazette


It was a word Fort Wayne Police Deputy Chief Paul Shrawder kept using Thursday as he talked about what is likely Allen County’s first homicide of 2015.

"I don’t know a better word for it," said Shrawder, the chief of the investigative division. "It’s just terrible."

What was terrible was that sometime after 10 p.m. Wednesday night, a stray bullet passed through the walls of a home in the 3000 block of South Hanna Street, striking a 34-year-old man inside the house and killing him as he put his children to bed, according to police.

The bullet likely traveled less than 200 yards, finding what is most likely a completely unintentional target. 

While his identity was unknown as of Thursday night, and no official cause or manner of death had been released by the Allen County coroner, Fort Wayne Police Chief Garry Hamilton spoke of it as a homicide during a news conference addressing crime in the city.

"Last night’s event was unfortunate, there was possible shots fired, the victim was not a target," Hamilton said.

"It’s unfortunate to have this person lose their life over shots fired – random shots. The complete details are still under investigation, but our feelings go out to that family first, and we’ll continue to look into it."

In a telephone interview Thursday afternoon, Shrawder said it again.

"It’s terrible," he said. "That we have people out there that uncaring – that callous."

So uncaring that they would fire randomly at a car sitting in front of them, which is what appears to have happened here.

So callous that they give no thought to the bullets shattering glass, tearing through walls of homes at which they had not aimed, had not intended to hit.

"When you shoot a bullet, it is going to go somewhere," Shrawder said. 

While the homicide rate from 2013 to 2014 took quite a dive, and Allen County has not yet, officially, had a homicide in the new year, Shrawder said he believes the reports of "shots fired" calls might be up. 

Numerous calls for "vandalism by gunshot" populate the city’s police reports nearly every day.

And in the past six months, residents of the city’s southeast side have been injured and killed by stray bullets, fired without regard in heavily populated areas. 

Fifty-four-year-old Glynis Harris was killed Sept. 5 while inside her home in the 4400 block of Lillie Street. Bullets tore through the front of her house, striking her in the chest.

On Oct. 4, a teenage girl was slightly injured while sitting on her sofa inside a home in the 400 block of East Suttenfield Street. Thirty to 40 shell casings were found outside the home. One other house and a vehicle were also struck. Investigators believed the attack on that home was not random.

Someone somewhere in the city knows who fired the guns Wednesday night that led to the death of a father inside his home.

Shrawder urges whomever that is to either surrender to police or deal with it through family and social pressure.

"Tell them it is not right to put other people at risk," he said.