FORT WAYNE — Shootings, beatings and stabbings left 29 people dead this year in Fort Wayne and Allen County.
Twenty-seven of this year’s homicides happened in the city. Of those, arrests have been made in three, while 17 remain unsolved, Fort Wayne police said.
Sgt. Carl Moore, who supervises the city’s homicide unit, said that sounds like a lot of cases without a resolution, but he expects that number to drop over time as investigations progress and more evidence is processed.
“In so many of these cases, it takes at least six months to get any test results back from the State Police post, so that we can actually move forward and file charges on somebody,” he said.
The year’s homicides are above the average of 25 seen over the past 30 years. In 2011, there were 24 homicides investigated by city and county police. The county’s record homicide total is 42 in 1997.
Moore said that of the 20 homicides city police handled in 2011, seven are still open cases. In 2010, the city investigated 28 homicides, and 13 of those are still under investigation, he said.
Moore said the biggest challenges his detectives continue to face is people not wanting to cooperate with police.
“Either they don’t want to talk to us at all, or they know stuff and they won’t tell, or they’ll lead us on a wild goose chase,” he said. “If you saw something or you know something, you need to help the police out.”
In 2012, two homicides, one in the city and one in Huntertown, were cleared when investigators determined that in each killing, the person who committed the slaying also killed himself.
In two of the homicides in the city, men were killed by police officers.
On April 9, Marcus Hayden, 26, fired shots at federal agents in an apartment in the Eden Green complex, off East Creighton Avenue, and struck one of them in the lower leg as agents tried to arrest him on a probation violation. Hayden fled, and Fort Wayne police officer Derrick Demorest shot him outside when he did not heed commands to stop and drop his gun, police said. Heyden died the next day. Prosecutors ruled the shooting was justified.
On May 18, Lucius D. Washington was shot by Indiana State Police Trooper Seth W. Mann during a scuffle downtown. That shooting remains under investigation.
Two homicides in 2012 were considered self-defense shootings in which civilians fired the fatal shots. One of those was outside the State Bar & Grill on East State Boulevard on March 3, when James A. Heinze was shot in the chest during a fight.
The other self-defense shooting was on April 12 when Patrick Lee, 18, was shot while attempting a robbery, police said.
At least two homicides were gang-related – the Jan. 2 shooting death of Michael J. Jones in his near-north-side home and the May 12 shooting death of David Wilson Jr. He was killed in a hail of bullets while sitting in the driver’s seat of a car on Spatz Avenue near Lafayette Street. Police believe he was not the intended target.
Two men died this year from injuries they received in shootings in previous years – one in 1983 and the other in 2006.
The coroner’s office counts them as this year’s homicides even though they were from earlier injuries. City police do not count such homicides in statistics for the year when the person died, Moore said.
Two of the homicides in 2012 fell under the jurisdiction of the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. In one case, a man shot himself shortly after killing a woman, and in the other, a deadly beating, a man was arrested and is scheduled to stand trial late next month.