Mother: ‘Our family deserves justice and closure’

Photo of Spencer Smith courtesy Angi Berger.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A homicide victim’s family is on a mission to find who shot and killed 20-year-old Spencer Smith. It has been more than a month since Smith was gunned down outside of East Central Tower Apartments. Now, his family is voicing frustration with the lack of progress in the case.

Fort Wayne Police responded to several reports of shots fired around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 19. When officers got to the scene, they found Smith near a building suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Amy Davis said ever since her nephew was killed, she and other family members have endured many sleepless nights. They are consumed by thoughts of who wanted to kill him and why.

“It’s real shocking for our family,” said Davis. “Automatically, your mind goes into a mode where you just want to solve the case yourself.”

Smith did not live at East Central Towers, according to his family. They said he was there babysitting for a friend. Smith’s mother, Angi Berger, said surveillance video captured him leaving the building around 12:35 a.m. About an hour later, police responded to a call of shots fired.

Smith’s family said they have received very little information from police. They question why the images from the building’s surveillance have not been released to the public. They are doing their own detective work in hopes of getting answers.

“No matter what this is about he did not deserve to have his life taken,” said Berger. “Our family deserves justice and closure.”

Berger and Smith’s grandfather, David Miller, said he was smart academically but very naive and impulsive. Miller said he wished he could have done more to help his grandson.

“He wasn’t street smart,” said Miller. “He wasn’t people smart and I believe that’s the reason he may have gotten himself killed that night.”

Smith also struggled with a long history of mental health problems, according to Berger. Still, his family never suspected he was in trouble. 

Berger went on to describe Smith as very loyal to his loved ones and said he did his best to help with his other siblings. She said the most difficult part is not knowing what led to the shooting.

“It saddens me to know he died alone and in pain,” she said. “The detective said he could be heard yelling on the 911 call. Because his belongings were stolen it took two days for them to ID him.”

The family has been working tirelessly to get to the bottom of it.

“I still feel that I have to get out there and find out what I can find out for myself and my family,” said Miller “My family needs closure on this. I’ve talked to a couple people up here and the stories I get from them are totally different than what the police have.”

The apartment complex was the site of two other deadly shootings in 2017, including a man shot in a wheelchair in the end of July and a Fort Wayne Community Schools educator and coach shot and killed in May. Davis said they are working to plan a vigil to honor Smith’s life and the two others killed.

“Maybe through all of this our families can unite and we can figure out what happened to each of our loved ones,” said Davis.