The shooting had been as brazen as they come in Fort Wayne, with a hail of bullets tearing through a moving ambulance and a car trailing behind.
The admission of guilt, though, was low-key.
When asked what brought him to the nearly empty courtroom Monday, 24-year-old Traneilous L. Jackson, donning an orange jail suit with his wrists cuffed in front of him, leaned into the microphone and simply said:
I intended to kill Jermaine Loyall, Domonic Loyall, Latasha Loyall and Lashanda Conwell.
As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Jackson admitted in Allen Superior Court to being one of two shooters who riddled an ambulance and a Chevrolet Impala with bullets Sept. 9.
His target was a man in the ambulance, one who had just been stabbed in a north-side nightclub, as well as that man’s family and friends, Jackson said.
In return for his plea, prosecutors are recommending that Jackson be sentenced to 60 years in prison on a slew of charges, including four counts of attempted murder.
A sentencing date for Jackson, where a judge will either accept or reject the plea agreement, has yet to be set.
Jackson, described in court documents as a member of the MOB street gang, was set to stand trial next week alongside 23-year-old Dontay D. Martin, also implicated in the shooting.
Is it your free and voluntary act to plead guilty to these charges? Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck asked Jackson during Monday’s hearing.
Yes sir, Jackson said.
Jackson and Martin were identified as the shooters of the ambulance within days of the violent episode, which began with a stabbing inside Piere’s nightclub at 5629 St. Joe Road.
Someone stabbed 29-year-old Jermaine Loyall with a broken beer bottle, according to police, and soon afterward medics had loaded him into an ambulance and were taking him to a local hospital.
Loyall’s sisters, Latasha and Domonic Loyall, and his friend Lashanda Conwell, hopped into a black Impala and followed the emergency vehicle.
It’s unclear who stabbed Jermaine Loyall – no one has been charged – but Jackson admitted Monday to having a fight with the group inside Piere’s before the shooting.
While the ambulance and Impala made their way through city streets, a Crown Victoria pulled up alongside them with Jackson in the front passenger seat and Martin in the rear passenger seat, according to court documents.
Soon thereafter, bullets began to pepper the vehicles, with both the ambulance and Impala sustaining 16 to 20 bullet holes each, according to court documents.
Monday, Jackson admitted during his court hearing that he used a handgun in the shooting that had a 15-round clip, and that he squeezed off several rounds.
Inside the ambulance, paramedic Jeromy Yadon suffered injuries to his left arm when he was struck with bullet fragments, glass and shrapnel. Two other emergency workers in the ambulance were uninjured.
In the Impala, Latasha Loyall was hit 10 times all over her body while Lashanda Conwell was hit once in her forearm, according to court documents. Domonic Loyall was also injured. All three survived.
Someone inside the ambulance as well as one of the women in the Impala called emergency dispatchers as the shooting occurred, and soon police were on the lookout for the Crown Victoria.
Spotted by both on-duty and off-duty officers as the car came downtown, a pursuit involving both the Fort Wayne Police and Allen County Sheriff’s departments ensued. At the corner of West Jefferson Boulevard and Fairfield Avenue, two people inside – one of them Martin – got out and tried to run from police. They were quickly apprehended.
But the car continued until off-duty officers with the sheriff’s department were able to use stop sticks to shred its tires in the 2200 block of Fairfield Avenue.
Jackson and the driver – who, unbeknownst to his passengers, also called 911 during the chase – were taken into custody.
Police found a 9 mm Glock handgun in the 200 block of Sixth Street that they connected to Martin, who had a bloody hand when caught. Officers found another handgun in the car, which they connected to Jackson after finding pictures of the gun on his cellphone, according to court documents.
The driver of the Crown Victoria, 27-year-old Alfonso Chappell, told police that Jackson and others forced him to follow the ambulance. Chappell has not been charged with a crime in the shooting.
Chappell also told detectives that Jackson was seeking revenge on Loyall over the stabbing of his brother Mel Jackson, according to court documents.
Along with four counts of attempted murder, Jackson and Martin were also charged with one count of felony battery, one count of carrying a handgun without a license and with a prior felony conviction, two counts of criminal recklessness and one count of criminal gang activity.
As part of Jackson’s plea agreement, prosecutors will drop the carrying a handgun without a license and criminal gang activity charges, according to court documents. Also, charges that he violated his probation stemming from two past felony convictions will also be dismissed, according to the plea agreement.
While Jackson will now await a sentencing date, Martin is scheduled to stand trial for the shooting beginning Monday, according to court records.