‘Phenomenal’ detective work led to Belcher’s arrest, Sgt. says

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The night three young men were shot dead in June 2018 in the area of Fourth and Wells streets, two of the victims were found in a gray Chrysler 200  rammed into the curb outside The Pantry. That’s one of many details contained in a probable cause affidavit following the arrest of a man last Friday who’s accused of killing the men.

Dashaun Richards, 25, seated in the backseat driver’s side,  was dead from a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. The driver, Breondon Pinkston, 28, shot multiple times on his right side, didn’t make it after he was taken to a local hospital.

Dernail Brown, 26, the third victim dispatched by the killer, was found dead on the sidewalk at Fourth and Harrison streets. According to an autopsy report, Brown died from a gunshot wound to the back that exited his chest.

A neighbor reported seeing a man standing over Brown and yelling at him “Where is it? Where is it?”, according to a probable cause affidavit written by the case’s lead homicide detective, Ben MacDonald.

The accused is Jacquail Belcher, 29, of Fort Wayne, who was arrested Friday and charged with three counts of murders. He appeared in Allen Superior Court Monday.

The shootings reported just past midnight, June 28, 2018 were witnessed by neighbors who didn’t know the young men, as they sat out on the porch and left their homes to investigate the shots fired.

In video surveillance from the Mission Church, Belcher is seen running away from Richards on the sidewalk in a northwest direction on to Cass Street. Before he runs away from Richards on the ground, he shakes him and tries to flip him over. The video shows Belcher run away, while looking over his shoulder and talking on his cell phone, court documents said.

One neighbor said he heard four gunshots and saw a man get out of the passenger side and then a second man follow him out of the car.

After Richards and the other two were shot, the Chrysler sped west on Fourth Street, crossed Wells and continued on until it struck a curb and hit a parked car outside The Pantry, according to another neighbor.

DNA evidence links Belcher to the Gray Chrysler 200 where it’s believed Belcher sat in the rear passenger seat when Pinkston and  Richards were shot. Richards’ cell  phone, found inside the Chrysler, has critical evidence connecting Belcher to the shootings.

While tracking down Belcher, who was wearing his hair in dreadlocks or long, thin braids, Belcher was the victim of a shooting on Sept. 21, 2018. The extent of his injuries was not included in the probable cause, but it was noted that he’d cut off his hair. Altering appearances is typical of people who have committed serious crimes, court documents say.

Homicide Sgt. Matt Wilson said the difficult case was solved because of MacDonald’s persistence.

“Ben MacDonald did a phenomenal job on that,” Wilson said.