The family of Tavontae Jamar Haney gathered Sunday afternoon next to a vacant house in the side yard where he was shot dead by two police officers.
Mourners placed bouquets on the spot where the 19-year-old was gunned down. Nearby, yellow and white daffodils bloomed as a light rain fell.
“He just tried to live right,” Haney’s older brother, Michael Carter, said. “He was a sweet guy.”
Saturday afternoon, Haney was a passenger in an SUV that was pulled over at Congress Avenue and Gaywood Drive, Fort Wayne police said.
He ran from the vehicle with a handgun, and he was chased for about three blocks to the 4300 block of Spatz where the two officers confronted him next to the vacant house, according to police.
The officers ordered him to drop the handgun, but he refused and directed the gun toward them, police Chief Rusty York said. The officers then shot Haney to protect themselves, York said.
Haney died at the scene. He left behind a 1-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, Carter said.
“He wanted to be in his kids’ life. He wanted to be a better role model for his kids,” Carter, 35, said. “His kids were his everything.”
Haney, who grew up in Fort Wayne, attended Wayne High School and later received his GED certificate. He had just started a new job after working for Comcast for a while, Carter said.
Haney had outstanding warrants for misdemeanor invasion of privacy and contempt of court, according to authorities. The invasion of privacy charge stemmed from an issue between Haney and the mother of his children, Carter said.
Police have not yet released the identities of the officers involved in the shooting. They have been placed on leave, which is department policy in such cases.
Fort Wayne police and the Indiana State Police are investigating the shooting, and the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office will decide whether the officers’ use of force was justified.
Haney’s death was the 16th homicide this year in Fort Wayne and Allen County, according to the county coroner’s office. He is one of three men killed by city police this year.
On March 20, two police snipers shot a man in a house after he killed a woman and took a 3-year-old boy hostage. On Feb. 20 in the stairwell of an apartment building, a police officer shot an armed man suspected of robbing a nearby drugstore.
The traffic stop that led to Saturday’s shooting was described by police as routine, but the reason for the stop has not been released. Along with Haney, the SUV driver ran from police. That person initially eluded officers, police said, but whether an arrest was made later was not clear. Police were not releasing any new information Sunday night.