Shooter sentenced for opening fire into pickup

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) A man who shot another after a disturbance at an industrial park complex in late July was sentenced Tuesday.

Steven Bleich, 25, was sentenced in Allen Superior Court to 18 years for felony charges of aggravated Battery and criminal recklessness, in line with a plea deal that dropped three additional charges for opening fire on Anthony Rice as he sat in a truck July 30.

Steven Bleich
Steven Bleich

It was around 9:30 p.m. that late July night that Fort Wayne Police were called to the Valero gas station at Ardmore Avenue and Engle Road on a plea for help.

Investigators said at the time that some type of disturbance between a group of people took place on Engleton Road and led to multiple shots being fired at a pickup truck, at least three bullets pumped through the windshield and another in its tailgate.

A passenger in the truck – Rice – was struck, and the driver went to a nearby gas station to call for help. Rice was hospitalized in serious condition.

After the shooting, police made a traffic stop of a suspect vehicle and detained four people for questioning in connection with the shooting.

Two people were arrested – Bleich and Colton Vibbert.

Police did not say what lead to the disturbance or if those involved knew each other.

In court Tuesday, prosecutors said Bleich followed the truck and then opened fire on it, riddling it with bullets with Rice inside. Thirteen shell casings were recovered at the scene.

Prosecutors said he still suffers from physical and psychological problems stemming from the incident, including coldness and numbness in the hand that was shot.

When given the opportunity to make a statement to the court, Bleich remained silent.

In addition to the 18-year sentence, a judge ruled the shooting was in violation of the terms of Bliech’s probation for a 2011 conviction of dealing cocaine. As a result, that probation was revoked and Bleich will serve the suspended portion of that sentence – six years – on top of the 18 years he was sentenced to Tuesday.

Vibbert’s case is pending with a jury trial scheduled for May 17, 2016.

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