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Posted on Wed. Dec. 12, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Dual shootings in parked car now homicides

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FORT WAYNE — A double shooting last week on the south side has become a double homicide, claiming the lives of two cousins who grew up together in Fort Wayne.

On Friday night, city police found Paul W. Ward III and Jeremy J. Walker in the front seat of a green Oldsmobile sedan parked in the 700 block of Milton Street.

The two men, both 22, had been shot, police said.

Ward died at the scene, and Walker had a “very faint pulse,” said officer Raquel Foster, a city police spokeswoman.

Walker was taken to a hospital in critical condition, police said. On Sunday, he died from his injuries, according to the Allen County Coroner’s Office.

Separated in birth by four months, Ward and Walker had a close bond and were always playing video games and joking around, said Ward’s mother, Tina Rothgeb.

“They’d make you laugh,” she said. “They’d make you forget whatever was wrong.”

While police do not believe the homicides were random, investigators have not confirmed a motive in the case, Foster said.

“The detectives always have possible theories on motives,” she said. “They are never going to release it until they have some definitive answers.”

Determined to find justice, Rothgeb pleaded with anyone with information about the killings to call police.

“I know somebody knows something out there,” she said. “Fort Wayne’s only so big. People talk.”

Ward and Walker both left behind fiancées and children, Rothgeb said. Ward had a 6-week-old, a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old, as well as his fiancée’s four children from another relationship. Walker had two children, ages 2 and 3, and also cared for his fiancée’s two children from another relationship.

Rothgeb said her son, a graduate of South Side High School, was a loving, giving young man who worked landscaping jobs to support his family. Neither he nor his cousin had significant criminal records, according to the Indiana courts website.

The shooting was reported shortly after 9:30 p.m. Friday, and when police arrived at the scene, the green Oldsmobile, parked just east of Hanna Street, was overheating. Firefighters came to help deal with the car’s hot engine, police said.

Neighbors told The Journal Gazette they heard the car loudly revving before officers arrived. Why the car was revving is unclear, Foster said.

Rothgeb said the car belonged to her son. It was towed to be searched for evidence, police said. Foster would not comment on any evidence that may have been found in the car, nor would she say whether detectives were able to interview Walker before he died.

Witnesses told police they saw a man leave the car’s back seat and flee on foot to the north. A description of that man has not been released, and no arrests have been made.

The deaths of Ward and Walker were the 27th and 28th homicides, respectively, in Allen County this year, the coroner’s office said.

Rothgeb said family and friends planned to hold a candlelight vigil for the pair Tuesday night at the scene of the shootings.

“All this killing, it’s got to stop,” she said. “It’s senseless.”

aingersoll@jg.net


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