A vigil to honor the victims of last week's triple shooting and their families was held at City Life Center on Thursday, with City Life leaders asking for prayerful cooperation.
Mourners in groups of 10 were led into different rooms at City Life, 3701 S. Calhoun St., to “reflect on what happened to our young men,” Nygel Simms, City Life national leader, said. Simms knew Anderson Retic and Joshua Cooper, the 19-year-olds who were slain, and Jaylin Rice, 20, who continues to recuperate, all of whom were part of the City Life community.
Simms spoke of an African adage: “I am because you are,” explaining that the victims are part of a larger community. “They're our brothers. They are our sons. We mourn together.”
Cooper and Rice were first cousins. Family members were not noticeably present and media were asked not to photograph the event.
Behind Simms on a screen were the 299 homicide victims from the years 2013 and 2020. Reggie Blackmon Jr., City Life director, led the groups in prayer.
The three friends were gunned down Feb. 17, as they exited the Quick Stop convenience store at East State Boulevard and Hobson Road around 6:20 p.m.
Inside the convenience store, angry words were spoken by the accused shooter, Joseph Bossard, who nearly hit one of the men with his pickup truck as he left pump 6. The victims were getting into their car at that point.
A Quick Stop cashier Thursday said words were also exchanged at the pumps before Bossard drove off, returning minutes later and parking behind the victims' blue Hyundai. Then the employees inside heard gunshots, the cashier said.
In a video widely circulating on social media reportedly of the shooting, a man is seen coming up on the driver's side of the victims' car and opening fire as they drive off. The man quickly hopped into his truck and pursued them south on Hobson Road, where he allegedly shot them again. Their car had crashed into a snowbank.
Police arrived at the scene to find the victims outside the vehicle in the snow, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Both Retic and Cooper were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Our city has been shaken once again by the homicide of young black men,” a program stated at the vigil for the three men. Chip Clark played guitar on a stage while people were encouraged to take a candle, sit down and say a prayer.
People were also asked to write their memories and messages on large banners. City Life and Youth for Christ people were there to pray with mourners, if needed.
City leaders who attended the vigil included Mayor Tom Henry, Police Chief Steve Reed, Boys and Girls Club CEO Joe Jordan and Iric Headley, director of Fort Wayne United. No estimates were available on the number of mourners who came.
“Make sure you support the families,” Foundation One of the Unity Barber Shop said as he entered City Life. “(Law enforcement) has got this. Let them do their job.”