The Herald Bulletin

March 24, 2013

Fort Wayne residents rocked by series of shootings

The Associated Press

FORT WAYNE, Ind. —  Residents in a northeastern Indiana city want to find a way to curb gun violence that has killed a dozen people so far this year.

About 300 people turned out for Friday night's meeting sponsored by the Fort Wayne Urban League, motivated by a series of shootings that have killed 12 people, including Jacqueline Bouvier Hardy, 49, who was pulled off a city bus and shot in a busy street by her ex-boyfriend, 45-year-old Kenneth Knight. Kight later was fatally shot by a police sniper during a standoff in which he held a 3-year-old boy hostage.

"We are trying to get your voice heard," Urban League President and CEO Jonathan Ray told the standing-room-only crowd. "We are going to galvanize your thoughts, your plans and put them into an action plan."

"It's just senseless," Artheria Jones, 64, told The Journal Gazette. "I just really believe that everyone is concerned and everyone wants it to stop."

Among those attending Friday night were Charlotte Richardson, whose son was shot and killed in 2010, and Richard Ridley, who said he lives two doors down from Hardy.

"We're fed up," said Ridley, a 53-year-old ex-firefighter. "We want to get together and try to come to some conclusions and try to find some type of resolution to the problem."

He said he had been to similar meetings where the same people usually attended and where much was said with little action following. But this time, he said he felt hope.

"There are a lot of new faces, a lot more younger faces, which I'm glad to see because that's where the problem lies," he said. "We need to get their parents more involved."

Shontel Vignaude, 36, said teenagers need more to do so they can keep out of trouble.

"They start smoking weed, getting high, skipping school, fighting and then they get into guns," she said.

Richardson told WANE-TV she was optimistic this time around.

She said the police and the community in Indiana's second-largest city need to meet their own responsibilities and work together to reduce gun violence.

"Stop being afraid to speak up and tell the police what you know," Richardson said. "For the police, get out there and do some foot work instead of just waiting on information to fall out the sky."