Cooperation from the public quickly led police to suspects in two of the city's latest homicides, but even more help is needed to solve other crimes and keep Fort Wayne safe in the future, Mayor Tom Henry and Police Chief Rusty York said Thursday.
Henry reassured the public there is no need to feel unsafe because the recent round of shootings were not random but were instead due to gangs, drugs and domestic violence. “If you're not involved in one of these things, you should be OK. But if you see something, let the police know. When people work with police, we see positive results,” Henry told reporters.
Because residents did just that after Gerelle Borum was shot and killed on West Rudisill Avenue Tuesday afternoon, police identified Josiah Thomas as the suspect within five minutes.
Tips from the public also led police to Kenneth Knight on Wednesday following the shooting earlier in the day of Jacqueline Bouvier Hardy as she waited at a bus stop. York said Knight was shot simultaneously by Emergency Services Team members Keith Wallace and Martin Grooms. Wallace, 43, has been on the FWPD for 12 years; Grooms, also 43, for nine years. Both have been placed on routine administrative leave pending a review of the shooting.
“The last 48 hours have been extremely trying,” York added, noting that he is working with the NAACP, Urban League, federal and county law enforcement officials and others to curb the violence that in recent days has primarily afflicted Fort Wayne's southeast side.
Henry said the request for more police officers could help address the situation, and York said the location and frequency of patrols is constantly evaluated and adjusted to address and, if possible, prevent problems.
Of the nine city homicides so far this year, six have been solved and there are suspects in two others, York said.
Knight's death was ruled a homicide by police-action shooting, the second such designation this year.