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The Journal Gazette

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:00 am

Charges dropped in teen's killing

Witnesses backed out, Richards says

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

About 100 people were at a bonfire Aug. 29, 2015, when rival gang members opened fire in the 2500 block of Schaper Drive. A stray bullet struck and killed 17-year-old Alonna Allison.

So why won't someone come forward to tell the story?

That's what Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards wanted to know Tuesday. She announced during a news conference that criminal recklessness charges filed a year after Allison's death against three young men whom eyewitnesses connected to the gunfire that evening about midnight had been dropped.

This isn't because Joshua Smiley, Javaris Travier and Darrion Bright, all 19 when the killing occurred, aren't guilty, Richards said, but because three witnesses who had come forward have apparently backed out.

Witnesses identified Travier, Bright and Smiley as having been at the party and having fired weapons during the fight, according to court documents.

“Two (witnesses) cannot be found and a third (has become) less than cooperative,” Richards said. A warrant “has been issued for her arrest,” referring to one of the two witnesses who cannot be found. The other one has no known address, she added.

With the clock ticking on the 12 months the prosecutor's office has to try the men in court, Richards and Deputy Prosecutor Christine Neilson decided to cut their losses and save the remaining time against the three should witnesses come forward again.

“You only have so long to file and we were eating up those days,” Richards said. A trial had been set for May 16, she added.

Leroy Allison, Alonna Allison's father, appeared with Richards at the news conference. Both said Alonna Allison, a student and basketball player at Concordia Lutheran High School, was not the intended target of the shooters of which there were probably five or six.

Richards said there were about 100 people, including adults, and more than 100 shots fired that night at the bonfire that had become an annual event in its third year. The hosts had taken care to keep the event safe and had even used a wand to detect weapons, Richards said.

“I'm not going to rest until somebody is brought to justice about her death. It can be a couple of years, but it's going to happen,” Leroy Allison said. “We have to change this culture of this word 'snitching' because it's not getting us nowhere. We're killing each other for nothing.”

Richards asked that anyone with information on Allison's shooting call the Fort Wayne Police Department at 427-1201 and ask to speak to Detective Cary Young.

jduffy@jg.net