The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 23, 2021 1:00 am

1 dead after gunfight; man held

Stray shots into apartments leave 4 hurt, 1 critically

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

One man is in custody after a gunbattle early Saturday claimed the life of one resident at the Villages of Hanna and injured four others, one in life-threatening condition.

After the violence, Jamarion Thomas, 20, whose address is at the Villages in previous court documents, was arrested less than 12 hours after the shooting and charged with aggravated battery causing death. 

He was being held at the Allen County Jail without bail.

At 12:41 a.m., officers responded to the rear parking lot at the Villages of Hanna while gunfire was raging.

As officers ran toward the gunfire, people dispersed, and no suspects were found.

The four surviving victims were hit by stray bullets inside their apartments, police said. 

As the investigation progressed, detectives pulled surveillance video from the apartment complex and talked to witnesses. 

A witness, who said he did not want to be identified because he lives there, told The Journal Gazette on Saturday afternoon that he called 911 to report heavy gunfire.

At least one shooter had an AR-15 rifle, he said, and attributed the gunfire to gang violence. 

The witness, whose car was towed because the back windows were shot out, said four shooters faced off in pairs in the middle of the parking lot.

He estimated he heard 300 rounds. 

He identified building 7B as the one where a woman was killed as she slept, something two other witnesses corroborated. 

Another victim was in 5B and was shot as one of the shooters tore out of the parking lot, he said. Fort Wayne officers were posted at units 5B and 7B Saturday afternoon.

A woman who said she was lucky her apartment is in the back of 7B said people were outside talking and enjoying the night when the gunfire erupted without warning.

“It was like a war zone,” she said, a comment repeated by another resident who declined to give his name, as did she. 

“I was scared because I have a 2-year-old son,” but she said she had “more concern with my neighbors in the front. Her house got hit.” 

When the gunfire got started, the woman said she “hit the floor. And I just prayed.” Her car was also shot up, preventing her from going to work Saturday. Although she has car insurance, she believes the damage will end up costing her lost wages.

“I already paid $55 to tow it,” she said. 

She blamed the violence on outsiders starting to ruin the reputation of an apartment complex that has strived to improve its profile in the community. 

“When stuff goes down like this, the office is closed. There's a greater chance of us being put out of the house,” she said. 

Maintenance man Howard Miller said that during his investigation, he heard people were ducking behind cars for cover.

He also blamed the trouble on outsiders as he surveyed the buildings where bullet holes were easy to pick out in the siding and brick. 

“There's more people hanging out that don't live here,” Miller said. 

At the Villages, on the southeast side of Fort Wayne, there are 11 buildings and four town homes with a total of 192 units, Miller said. 

The coroner will identify the victim who was killed. If the death is ruled a homicide, it will be the 17th in Allen County this year.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 260-436-7867 or through the P3 Tipps app.

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