The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 1:00 am

Crime wave 'will not be tolerated'

Police chief vows arrest in shootings at homes

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed had a message Tuesday for the people responsible for a recent wave of violence in the city.

“Shooting into homes, injuring innocent kids will not be tolerated,” he said. “We will find you, and we will arrest you.”

Reed, Mayor Tom Henry and Fire Chief Eric Lahey called a news conference to talk about last year's public safety achievements and this year's goals.

But Reed also addressed a recent trend he said concerns him. This month, there have been four shootings into homes that have killed or injured someone. 

Reed said teens are responsible for most of the shootings, and some of them are gang related.

“Parents, where are your kids?” Reed asked.

Detectives have been working around the clock to get answers, he said. One detective worked 25 hours straight, Reed added.

The latest shooting happened about 11:20 p.m. Sunday in the 4200 block of Warsaw Street, east of Lafayette Street and south of Rudisill Boulevard. Buddy Barnes, 59, was shot in the face and taken to a hospital where doctors determined his injuries to be life-threatening, police said.

Investigators believe shots were fired at the home from outside.

Police said last week they believe the three other shootings – which killed a man and injured two boys, ages 8 and 13 – were related. As of Monday night, those shootings did not appear to be related to Sunday's shooting on Warsaw Street, according to Sgt. Sofia Rosales-Scatena, city police public information officer.

Reed said he was encouraged that homicides in Fort Wayne were down 37% last year compared with 2018 and investigators solved almost 80% of them.

Officers seized more than 900 guns last year, compared with more than 700 in 2018. Arrests for illegal handgun possession were up over 18% in 2019.

Adult arrests were up almost 4%, and property crimes were up 6% last year.

Reed said a class of new recruits and a class consisting of officers with previous experience in other cities will help maintain a budgeted staffing level of about 480 officers.

Last week, the department showed off equipment that officers said will provide a faster and more comprehensive analysis of the drugs they find on the streets.

Lahey said the fire department responded to more than 25,000 calls for help last year, including 10,600 calls involving emergency medical services. 

Twenty-eight firefighters will be certified this year to provide advanced life support, bringing the total to 68, he said.

Four new replacement engines and a new technical rescue truck were placed into service last year.

The fire department was awarded a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant last year, enabling it to install more than 400 smoke detectors, 150 carbon monoxide detectors and 12 hearing-impaired detectors in homes at no cost to residents.

Another grant toward the end of last year will enable the fire department to install an additional 750 smoke detectors, 1,750 carbon monoxide detectors and 60 combination hearing-impaired detectors this year and beyond, the city said.

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