Official: Robbery suspects likely connected to other dollar store heists

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Fort Wayne Police officer who shot a dollar store robbery suspect Sunday night, critically wounding him, will undergo questioning later in the week along with two other officers, Public Safety Director Rusty York said Monday.

Mug shot of Anthony Gant provided by the Allen County Sheriff's Department.
Mug shot of Anthony Gant provided by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department.

York said an early look into the police-action shooting showed one officer fired two shots at 43-year-old Anthony Gant of Fort Wayne, hitting him once, in response to an armed robbery call at Dollar General at 3121 East State Boulevard Sunday night. That officer, who was not identified, and two other officers are on mandatory administrative leave, York said.

Fort Wayne Police policy requires a “cooling-off period” before officers are interviewed after certain incidents, York said Monday.

Such an incident unfolded Sunday night.

An armed robbery call at Dollar General at 3121 East State Boulevard Sunday night left one suspect in critical condition following a police-action shooting.
An armed robbery call at Dollar General at 3121 East State Boulevard Sunday night left one suspect in critical condition following a police-action shooting.

It was around 8:15 Sunday night when two men came into the store wearing masks and gloves, demanded cash and cigarettes from the employee and tied up an employee and customer inside. York said the Dollar General clerk was on the phone with a friend when the men entered. That friend overheard the clerk’s exchange with the suspects and called 911 to report the robbery, York said.

Police arrived and surrounded the store. York said the suspects initially tried to flee from the store’s back door, but ran into police. They then ran back into the store and fled out the front door, into police.

At that point, the officer fired two shots at Gant, hitting him once, York said. It’s unclear why the officers fired, or if the suspects were armed as they left the store or if they fired on officers. York said “we’re still trying to go over the dynamics of what happened.” A suspect’s weapon was found inside the store.

Gant remained in a Fort Wayne hospital in critical but stable condition.

A second suspect, 31-year-old Christopher D. Johnson of Fort Wayne, ran south towards Baldwin Creek Apartments and shed clothes as he ran from officers. York said another weapon could have been discarded as he fled. Johnson was later apprehended and taken into custody. Johnson has active warrants, including a parole violation, and additional charges are pending from Sunday’s robbery, police said.

Police now are working to investigate the incident.

Video surveillance footage from inside the store was taken by police and will be investigated, York said.

After a couple “sleep cycles,” York said the officers will be interviewed. He said Monday, though, that the officers’ acted “professionally and effectively.”

“A shooting isn’t an ideal situation but you have to remember that these people were violent perpetrators that basically took two people hostage,” York said.

York said the suspects in Sunday night’s robbery were suspects in at least a few of the string of robberies of discount stores around the city this year. At least 14 stores have been robbed – several at gunpoint.

This is the second officer-involved shooting by an FWPD officer in 2015. The first was in June on Saint Mary’s Avenue when an officer shot and killed a man who failed to comply with his orders after answering the door with a gun.

The two officer-involved shootings this year follows 2014 when the department had zero. That followed a string of four investigations in 2013 in which officers were involved in shootings.

Indiana State Police will run a concurrent investigation with the Fort Wayne Police Department on the latest shooting.

Photos | Mug shots in the news 

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