The Journal Gazette
Thursday, May 21, 2020 1:00 am

Family, friends mourn after fatal shooting

19-year-old victim had daughter on the way

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Jaden Diaz Lee Nelson was on his employee break from Kroger at Southgate Plaza when he was fatally shot on Avondale Drive. 

That's what his father, James Nelson, and stepmother, Rikki Bear – who raised him since he was a year old – said Wednesday at their home on the south side.

Around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jaden Nelson, 19, was driving a car with his pregnant girlfriend sitting in the front passenger seat while Ronnie Miles Jr. and a boy sat in the back, James Nelson and Bear said.

Miles, 19, was charged Wednesday with murder, felony murder, robbery and criminal recklessness. The boy, 16, was charged with robbery and felony murder, Fort Wayne police said.

James Nelson said Wednesday his son was acquainted with the two accused of killing him but didn't “hang out” with them. Police said their gang and narcotics officers determined the shooting was a robbery involving drugs.

Jaden was shot at Avondale and Pettit Avenue and drove himself to the gas station at Pettit and South Calhoun Street where someone called 911, police said.

Jaden Nelson's girlfriend, who is six months pregnant, “tried to put pressure on his chest,” his father said. Jaden died of a gunshot wound to his torso, the Allen County coroner said Wednesday. 

Jaden Nelson is Allen County's 15th homicide victim this year. 

Detectives working through the night quickly found the boy involved in the shooting, and at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Miles was picked up and taken downtown for questioning, police said. 

Miles' arrest was welcomed by Jaden Nelson's parents, but it doubles their pain. Their first loss was their daughter Simone Dufor, 21, who died in a car crash about 11:30 p.m. May 3 after a brief police pursuit. Dufor, the passenger in her car driven by Juwan Benson, was pronounced dead at the scene. Benson was taken to a hospital where he died. 

Bear said she and her husband were tipped off Tuesday afternoon that something had happened and arrived at the gas station, but it was too late. Medics had already transported Jaden to the hospital.

“He has a baby on the way. He just found out he was having a daughter,” Bear said through tears. She said she talked to him on and off all day Tuesday and had told him to be careful.

Two of his best friends, Max Curry and Daimond Veazey, both 19, said Jaden's death has hit them hard. 

“I never expected it to be him,” Veazey said. “He was such a loving and caring person. He always wanted us to live better as brothers.”

Curry said he was “hurt because it happened again,” referring to the loss of Dufor. “It's not the first person we've lost over nothing,”

Their message to their peers was to use common sense and don't thieve.

“Just stop, stop. It ain't worth it,” Curry said. “At the end of the day, your life ain't worth what's in that bag.”

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