BLUFFTON – The sparkling blue eyes and infectious smile looked out from the hundreds of pictures of Jacob Jake Michuda that surrounded his family and friends Tuesday.
The boy, who would have been 5 years old next month, wore a coonskin cap as he lay in his casket during a public visitation at Lancaster Elementary School in Bluffton.
The pictures on display portrayed Jakes love of animals and his enjoyment of outdoor activities. A public funeral will be at 11 a.m. today at the school.
This was a senseless death. Any childs death is going to affect everybody, Wells County Sheriff Monte Fisher said. This is a faith-based community. They always come together for each other in their time of need.
Jake was fishing for catfish with his father and two other men at a pond at his grandfathers home in Ossian on Friday when he was shot in the head shortly after 11 p.m.
A neighbor who had been drinking fired two shots from a .22-caliber rifle outfitted with a scope toward the group that was fishing, according to Wells Circuit Court documents made available Tuesday.
Bruce Pond, 46, is being held at the Wells County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail on a felony charge of reckless homicide and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a firearm after being convicted of domestic battery.
Wells County Prosecutor Michael W. Lautzenheiser Sr. said he told Jakes family to be cautious when speaking to the media because he doesnt want to give Circuit Court Judge Kent Kiracofe a reason to move a potential jury trial to another county.
Its hard to find jurors who arent inundated over and over again, Lautzenheiser said.
Pond wasnt charged with murder, Lautzenheiser said, because it would be too difficult to prove Pond had meant to shoot Jake.
The reckless homicide charge carries a maximum 8-year prison sentence and $10,000 in fines.
From the evidence we have at this moment, it is hard to say that he intended to kill someone, Lautzenheiser said. If you read the facts of the case, you will see what (Pond) did was reckless, very reckless.
Jake was fishing off a pier that was two houses east of the home of Ponds mother. One of the men fishing was kneeling next to Jake when the first shot was fired.
He told police that the boy fell to the deck of the pier, and he saw blood and that Jake was hurt, according to court documents.
As Jakes father and the two men carried the boy toward the house, Pond fired another shot, court documents said.
The boy was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital and was pronounced dead at 3:12 a.m.
Pond, his son and another man were drinking at Ponds mothers home Friday before the shooting and initially told police they didnt see or hear anyone shoot a gun, according to court documents.
Pond lived with his mother in the home near the 3900 block of East 900 North, where the shooting took place.
During a second interview with police, one of the witnesses said that a light was bothering Pond, so Pond went into the house and grabbed a .22-caliber rifle with a scope, court records said.
Pond then fired two shots in the general direction of the Michuda home and later told the witness that will teach them after he fired the shots, court documents said.
Before police arrived to question Pond, he forced his son to hide the rifle, court records said.
Police later found the rifle hidden in a field near Ponds mothers home.
I strongly believe in the right for people to bear arms, but people who own a firearm should take a safety course, Fisher said. Definitely, alcohol and firearms dont mix.
Public defender Al Anzini was appointed for Pond, who pleaded not guilty at his initial appearance Monday.
Anzini was not available for comment Tuesday.
After police arrested Pond, he admitted to firing the gun twice, according to court documents.
Pond also asked police to tell Jakes family he didnt mean to shoot the little boy and told police he vomited 19 times because he was so distraught, court records said.
Pond had been prohibited from possessing guns since pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge in August 2010 in Allen County.
In that case, Pond had been drinking when he got in an argument with his then-girlfriend, according to court documents.
He threw a remote control at the womens back, before ripping her purse off her arm because he wanted money, court documents said.