People crowded the shoveled sidewalks outside the Allen County Courthouse on Tuesday morning, wearing Black Lives Matter masks and carrying signs with such messages as “Justice 4 Three” and “Hold Him Accountable #racial bias.”
The crowd was mourning last week's fatal shootings of 19-year-olds Anderson Retic and Joshua Cole Cooper, and they called for an attempted murder charge for the shooting that injured Jaylin Rice, 20.
Joseph Bossard, 32, was formally charged Tuesday with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He also faces charges of aggravated battery and criminal recklessness along with a sentencing enhancement for using a gun to commit the crime.
Marjorie Warfield, a great-aunt of Cooper and Rice, said she grieves the lives taken Feb. 17 outside a convenience store at East State Boulevard and Hobson Road.
Authorities have said an argument preceded the shooting.
“We all get angry,” Warfield said, “but do you have to take?”
Warfield, who wore a “Justice 4 Three” mask, described the way Cooper could light up a room, and she shared fears about the safety of her grandchildren. She worries whether they ever will be harmed while getting gas.
“He just took so much from us,” Warfield said.
ChangeMakers, a local social activist group also part of Tuesday's demonstration, is urging Fort Wayne officials to prosecute Bossard to the fullest extent possible. They also want the investigation to reflect the shooter's possible racial motivations.
Bossard is white. The two 19-year-olds killed were Black, as is the injured 20-year-old.
In a statement about the shootings, the Indiana chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action said more must be done to prevent gun violence.
“These young men should still be with us and their families should not be staring at an empty seat at the dinner table or praying at the side of a hospital bed,” Des Harris, a volunteer with the Indiana chapter of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement. “Gun violence is a public health crisis that is tearing apart too many families and taking the lives of too many Black men, women, children in Indiana.”
Fort Wayne police have not suggested a possible motive for the shooting.
College student Leticia Johnson said minorities need to unite to effect change.
“We shouldn't have to worry about the next generation,” she said.
ChangeMakers is also demanding a fair and thorough investigation, including full release of statements, interviews, records, video footage, recordings and 911 calls; and that no plea deals are offered.
The Allen County prosecutor's office does not comment on pending cases.