Police ‘can’t do it by ourselves’
The night Michael Ternell Carter was shot to death at the American Legion at Hanna and Lewis streets, his wife, Kanosha, was out of town. But it didn’t take long for her to hear the news.
Part of what upsets Kanosha Carter about the July 29 homicide is the same thing that bothers Garry Hamilton, the Fort Wayne Police Department’s deputy chief in charge of criminal investigations. Witness cooperation.
At least a dozen people were in the parking lot at the Legion that night, including two other victims, when Carter, 40, was shot multiple times, but no one will talk. Camera surveillance shows the argument, but not the actual shooting, Hamilton said.
Of 43 homicides this year, Carter’s shooting is one of two cases in which the witness pool was large, but cooperation lacking. The other homicide victim shot in front of several people was Alastair Cordell Stephens, 38, in the 3900 block of Bowser Avenue on May 8.
“People should call if they want to make a difference,” Hamilton said. “We can’t do it by ourselves.”
Nearly half, or 21 of the year’s homicides, are considered closed cases, Hamilton said. The department considers cases closed when its investigation rules homicides accidental, in self-defense or when an arrest and charges are made.
“Numbers are up for solvability,” Hamilton said, as he went through the list of this year’s homicides kept on the computer in his second-floor office at the Rousseau Centre.
“None of these cases would be solved without the public’s help.”
Within a week of 2016 ending, arrests had been made in less than a quarter of the 49 homicides. At the same point in 2017, four out of 41 were closed and there were six where the suspected killer was behind bars awaiting a trial or a hearing.
The number of homicides for 2018 could increase with two cases pending rulings from the Allen County Coroner. Cordell Patterson has been charged with murder in the death of Laura E. Larkin, 33, at her home on Cass Street Nov. 26. Tyrin Boone, 40, was charged with murder in the stabbing death of his wife, Janaya Boone, Dec. 12 at the Regency Inn.
Two of this year’s homicides were in self-defense and three were accidental, police said, although the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office has yet to decide in the two self-defense cases.
Police have suspects in the homicides of Destinie Haywood, 21; Shaquille Jovon Rancefer, 24; William M. Adamonis, 31; Alastair Stephens, 38; Dominik Alaijuon Files, 28; Fermin H. Rosa, 67; Carter, 40; and Brinden R. Hall Fletcher, 25.
There are no suspects in 13 cases, including one involving Hamilton’s nephew. Carlos Hamilton, 19, was found shot to death July 21 in his car in the parking lot of the Walgreens on East State Boulevard at Coliseum Boulevard.
“His parents want this person caught. They’d like to have the case closed. Just because it’s my nephew, you can’t force someone to come in. You can’t make up stuff,” Hamilton said.
“That’s what the law is for, to protect the suspect. It’s not like in the ’60s or ‘Law and Order,’” he said, referencing the popular television show.
Less gang violence
Only one of this year’s homicides is considered gang-related, compared with last year when 13 homicides were thought to involve gangs.
Dominik Files was taken to a hospital by private car after a gun battle between rival groups in May. Homes and cars were sprayed with bullets around 2:30 a.m. and then the shooting stopped abruptly as those involved dropped their guns and took off, leaving Files mortally wounded and two others in serious condition.
“That shooting was between the C’s gang and the MOB gang,” Sgt. Gary Hensler of FWPD’s Gang & Violent Crimes Unit said in an email response. “That is a long-going feud. Both of those gangs have been actively fighting on and off for nearly 10 years now.”
With the law protecting the suspect, who does not have to give evidence if he or she doesn’t want to, the Fort Wayne Police Department has turned to issuing “person of interest” bulletins.
Distributed through the media, the bulletins have helped police find four suspects who were charged with murder or neglect resulting in death: Tyrin Boone, Shane Patton, Brandon Cook and Cordell Patterson. Another person of interest, Gerald Pinkston, is still at large.
Hamilton said police will no longer hold on to information when it affects the security and safety of the community.
“We get a lot of help from the U.S. marshals and the FBI in locating our suspects,” Hamilton said.
Although the police department also wants to improve communication with families, Kanosha Carter said she has had very little interaction with the detective assigned to her case
“We have to do a better job,” Hamilton said. “These families are hurting. Detectives may not be around all the time, but they (the families) do expect a phone call back.”
‘Took a lot out of us’
Carter, a certified nursing assistant had a good life before her husband, known as “MikeyC,” was shot and killed when he stepped in to stop a fight outside the bar at Hanna and Lewis Streets just before 2 a.m. Two other men were shot and wounded: Kevin Allen and Terrence Jordan, Hamilton said.
The Carters were together for 12 years, married for six. Now she is a single mother with four daughters ranging from elementary to high school age, and medical bills for her husband are still coming in because of the shooting. Currently, the bills amount to about $50,000.
“It’s hard,” Carter said.
The shooting has also affected the 400-member Legion where her husband died. Business has gone from about $50,000 a month to half that, Anthony Payne, the post’s commander said.
“We make everyone safe inside,” Payne said in a recent interview, “but the American Legion can’t really control what goes on outside.”
Inside, each patron submits to a security check with an electronic wand.
There are five cameras outside and the post is working “to cover all the dead spots.” One of those dead spots was where Carter got shot.
Since July, two barmaids, a security guard, a canteen manager and a DJ have lost their jobs. The post has organized a committee “to see what we can do better,” Payne said.
“It really took a lot out of us, not just financially, but personally,” Payne said.
The confrontation that led to Carter’s death started inside the bar, according to Payne and a witness who was inside.
“They were escorted out, but they obviously came back together after that,” Payne said. “Punches were thrown.”
This year, the motive for homicides was varied. Data from local police detectives show that along with one gang-related homicide, there were 16 drug-related; nine unknown, 17 domestic, three neglect, two robberies, two batteries and three accidental.
The department wants “to do the right thing for the families,” Hamilton said. “We want justice for the family. Ultimately, we work for God.”