FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Two women and an unborn baby boy are dead. The man Fort Wayne police believe is responsible is booked into Allen County Lockup on two counts of murder.
Officers responded to the 1200 block of Lillie Street around 6:30 Saturday morning after someone reported several gunshots in the area. When police arrived, they found two women shot inside a home.
One victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Medics took the other woman to a hospital in serious condition, but doctors later downgraded her to critical condition. Police said she died later.
The Allen County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as 37-year-old Preonda M. Jones of Fort Wayne and 24-year-old Brianna R. Gould of Fort Wayne. Autopsies showed both women died of gunshot wounds, and their deaths were ruled homicides.
Gould was 37-weeks pregnant with a baby boy named Legend James, her family said. She was due to give birth any day. The unborn baby’s death was also ruled a homicide.
“It’s a demon drop roller coaster ride,” said Trisha Gould, Brianna’s mother. “The emotions are high. The pain is real.”
“It’s been difficult,” said Tremarcus Jones, who is Jones’ cousin. “It’s almost as though it’s not real yet.”
The details of what led to that shooting Saturday are unclear. Trisha Gould, Brianna’s mother, said she believes drug addiction led her daughter to that home. Jones’ family said they believe she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On Monday, Fort Wayne Police said they’d arrested 26-year-old Deyante Antuan Stephens of Fort Wayne. The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office was reportedly looking at additional charges, police said.
Gould said her daughter and Jones were acquaintances but she does not know Stephens. Although he’s the one who police said pulled he trigger ,Gould doesn’t blame him for her daughters death. She believes her struggle with addiction sealed her fate.
“The disease took her,” said Gould. “It wasn’t the man. It wasn’t the gun. It wasn’t the drugs.The disease of addiction took her.”
Gould said she battle addiction for the last five years. Her cousin Kayley Gould has been by side during that fight.
“She tried,” she said. “She tried really hard. She just didn’t get it right you know. And now she doesn’t have to try anymore.”
The Jones family said they believe she was caught in the line of fire because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her death has left a void in their family that is difficult to fill.
“She just was a beautiful person,” said Antoinia Mitchell, Jones’ sister. “She had a beautiful spirit. No matter what happened, no matter what was said.”
Jones a mother of 4 and Gould leaves behind a 5-year-old daughter. Both families have only found comfort in their belief that the women are in a better place.
“I always told her, ‘never say goodbye and always make good decisions,'” said Gould. “I never told her goodbye and I never will.”
“We know she’s with God and we’re thankful for that,” said Jones. “And we just continue to pray and stay strong.”
Police said there were other people in the house at the time of the shooting. They were interviewed and investigators went door-to-door asking neighbors if they saw anything.
A probable cause affidavit revealed that someone called 911 and reported that someone was covered in blood inside the home and may have been dead. That person was later identified as Jones.
Later, police found Gould inside a bathtub in critical condition she was taken to the hospital where she and her unborn baby, Legend James died.
A woman could be heard screaming during the time of the shooting and someone reportedly heard Stephens voice. He was not at the home when police arrived but they found him a short time later after someone called 911 to report that a man was trying to get into an apartment.
When police arrived he was bleeding from his hand and had blood on his clothing. First, he yelled at police, “Shoot me! Please shoot me! You know it’s going to happen! Shoot me!” He repeatedly said the officers “knew who he was.” Then Stephens reportedly asked the officers for a hug.
Stephens reportedly told police about a gun in a bathtub and said he knew why officers were looking for him. He began to ask officers who “snitched” on him and called the officers “dead men.” He later threatened to kill officers before threatening to kill himself. The details of what led to the arrest has left Jones at a loss for words.
“We will have no message for the shooter or any other shooters,” said Jones. “But we will tell you that as a family we were in constant prayer for those that are victims and for those that are not who are apart of the situation.”
Stephens was released from state prison in September after serving eight years for reckless homicide. He accidentally shot Christopher Ty-Ron Caldwell, to death with a shotgun.
Stephens was set free midway through that sentence after a judge suspended the time, but he was caught by police a day later after he and a group held up a Fort Wayne bank. He served 37 months in federal prison for that 2013 ordeal.