Neighbors stunned day after officer-involved shooting

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It was a very busy and active crime scene Saturday night on St. Marys Avenue after one man died in an officer-involved shooting. Police were dispatched on a disturbance call. When the man answered the door armed and refused to drop his weapon multiple times, an officer shot him. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Many neighbors were outside watching everything unfold. It was a very different atmosphere for a street neighbors said is typically very calm.

“It’s usually pretty quiet. I sit out here most of the time and just chill and watch the passers-by and about the only noise you get is about the wind and the wind chimes,” neighbor Joel Brown said.

Crime scene tape still lined the front door of the house in the 2500 Block of St. Marys Avenue Sunday afternoon. Next door, neighbors were still shocked about what happened just hours before.

“I’ve never even heard a gunshot before, so that was kind of shocking,” neighbor Josalyn Andrzejewski said.

Andrzejewski has lived next door to the house where the shooting happened for about four years. She said she was with her mother at the time and thought the noise was coming from the “Cops Reloaded” show they were watching on television.

“We heard yelling and just cuss words and all that. We thought it was on TV, but then we turned it down and we turned off the ceiling fan and we heard that it was from next door and then it stopped for a bit. Then it started back up and a few minutes later we heard someone yell put the gun down now and then we heard four shots like bam, bam, bam, bam right in a row and then my mom ran outside and I called 911,” Andrzejewski said. “I’ve never even heard a gunshot before, so that was kind of shocking. I’m just like still in that processing like shock type like did it really even happen type state, so I just don’t know what to think.”

Neighbors said a husband and wife lived in the house where the shooting happened.

“They was good people. We would sit around and play cards, use to sit around the campfire out back,” Barbetta said.

Barbetta has lived next door for the last 13 years and said the couple had lived in the house for at least 25 years.

“It’s just shock, can’t believe it actually happened. I’m worried mainly about his wife and how she’s going to cope with it,” Barbetta said. “It’s definitely going to be a different day not seeing him.”

Several neighbors said the suspect was a very nice man the majority of the time.

“When I first met him, he was happy go lucky, give you the shirt off his back. He was that type of guy. If you asked for something, he’d give it you, he was just a really kind soul,” Brown said.

They said he also struggled with alcohol issues, a factor they are convinced played a role in Saturday night’s shooting.

“We all around here knew something was going to happen when he started buying guns because he’s not the type of person that needs one, basically,” Barbetta said.

Neighbor Joel Brown said the initial disturbance call actually came from his house. He said the shooting victim threw a chair through his window, which was already boarded up Sunday afternoon. He said the suspect then ran back to his own house.

“By the time I had come back out here, he was already across the street and he was yelling I’ve got guns and I’m going to kill you. Come over here, I’m going to kill you, and about 5-10 minutes later, the police showed up. Then they went over there and I heard put the gun down like 4 times and then I heard crack, crack, crack but then woof there was like thirty cop cars,” Brown said. “When they started to corner off stuff and the crime scene investigation came up and the ambulance showed up, I knew he was hurt, but then when the ambulance took the gurney in and then nothing came back out, I kind of figured he was passed.”

There was just one police car parked on St. Marys Avenue Sunday afternoon. While neighbors said they’re saddened by the shooting, they said they’re also grateful to police for keeping their neighborhood safe. They said it brings a sense of peace after a night they never expected.

“Looks like we have a bad neighborhood is what it looks like. That’s what it makes it feel like, but at least I don’t know makes the streets feel safe. At least the jobs are getting done with the people out there doing the things they shouldn’t be doing,” Barbetta said.

This is the first officer-involved shooting in Fort Wayne since 2013. There were four that year. 

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