Three out of four alleged members of the 2500 gang, charged in an 18-count federal indictment for racketeering and violent crimes, were arraigned in federal court Friday. The three pleaded not guilty.
This is the first case in Fort Wayne brought under a federal law known as VICAR or violent crime in aid of racketeering.
The gang’s name comes from its original address, 2500 Caroline Street in Fort Wayne. The gang also went under the names 2500 Block and Stack Money.
The federal indictment states that members of the 2500 regularly clashed with other gangs including "M.O.B.," "Mafia," and "Bang Squad."
The gang’s modus operandi, according to Anthony Geller, assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Indiana who’s leading the government’s case, was to attack rival gang members whether by shooting or other means such as battery, in and out of incarceration.
Although no specific homicide was linked to this case, the indictment alleges that the 2500 was a criminal organization that engaged in acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder and drug trafficking.
The indictment and arraignment stem from an incident on Oct. 4, 2014, when the four men allegedly shot at two houses at the corner of Caroline and Suttenfield streets. Two rival gang members came out on the porch, Geller said, and were injured by gunfire. The neighbor living next door was also injured.
The four who are charged in the incident are Demetri D. Beachem, aka "Meech," 22, and William D. Beamon, aka "Lil Will," 24, both of Fort Wayne, and Kyombe D. Bolden, aka "Pudge," 25, and Ronnie D. Burrus, aka "Ronnie Robinson," "Ronnie Burris" and "Yung Ron," 24, both of Bloomington.
Burrus was the only one who did not appear Friday in front of federal Magistrate Susan Collins. He will be arraigned in the next few weeks, said Ryan Holmes, public information officer for the U.S. attorney’s office. The trial date has not been set.
Robert Gevers, attorney for Beachem, said his client now has a job and would likely be rehired if the court would allow him to live with either his girlfriend and 6-month-old son or with his grandmother instead of being incarcerated.
Gevers argued that the 2014 incident took place 21/2 years ago and since then, Beachem had reported for drug testing and pre-trial services regularly.
Geller said the nature of the crime made Beachem a risk to society. Geller said that Beachem fired 11 rounds into the house and that he was the first to fire.
His gun was recovered at a traffic stop that occurred almost immediately after the incident.
Several of Beachem’s relatives came to the arraignment, two of them who identified themselves as his cousins.
"I know personally that my cousin didn’t do anything," a male cousin told The Journal Gazette.
There were also relatives for Beamon. Beamon’s father, Will Freeman, said Beamon has been working at his cleaning business.
His attorney, Stanley Campbell, also argued for home detention or work release, but Geller used the same argument he used for Beacham to convince the judge otherwise. Geller said that Beamon fired 12 rounds from his gun.
"Once a gang member, always a gang member," Geller said, which brought a negative response from two female members of Beamon’s family.
Beamon’s mother, Teonna White, said that her son went through a lot while he was growing up, and that she was struggling with mental illness at the same time.
She has help now from a psychiatrist and is taking medicine, but she knows her son suffered. He was diagnosed with ADHD and did not graduate from Paul Harding High School, she said.
"Children or people turn to gangs if they don’t have a good family structure going on," White said. "He’s been through a lot."
Bolden, represented by attorney Anthony Kraus, did not contest the charges.