FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Neighbors near Weisser Park said a shooting that involved a Fort Wayne police officer early Sunday was the result of a block party gone wrong.
It was around 12:30 a.m. when Fort Wayne Police responded to a call of shots fired near South Hanna Street and East Maple Grove Avenue. During the ordeal, a Fort Wayne Police officer shot a suspect.
Police described a gun battle between “rival factions,” but neighbors told a different story to WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee on Tuesday.
Several neighbors said a huge area near Weisser Park and Maple Grove was blocked off for a “massive block party” Saturday night. Neighbors said during the party, a fight broke out between two women, and they were fighting on top of a car.
The owner of the car, who did not want to be identified, she said a family member woke her up and told her about the fight. She said she went outside and saw the scuffle.
She said a few minutes later, a group of guys came to break up the fight. When the girls continued, one of the men fired gunshots into the air in an attempt to stop the altercation.
After that, another neighbor said one police officer arrived and tackled someone to the ground.
At that point, more gunshots rang out from another street nearby. Police swarmed the area after that, witnesses said.
The neighbor said once officers arrived, they told everyone not to move. That’s when a male got out of the backseat of a white Jeep and a police officer shot him, a neighbor said.
Police said in a statement the officer was confronted by a suspect with a gun, and the officer fired to preserve his own life. The male suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“Why would you shoot him, if you aren’t defending yourself,” said Anthony Henry, a resident in the neighborhood. “Why would you shoot him? He could have went to something else instead of shooting him, but he probably felt like he was in danger.”
Alicia Vargas also lives in the neighborhood and said block parties aren’t uncommon in the area. She doesn’t believe the situation was gang related, “just a party gone bad.”
Vargas said her neighborhood is safe, but she said she was concerned that that neighbors called police several times to break up the party before chaos erupted.
“I called back again and said ‘Nope, you got to send somebody because it’s getting out of hand,'” Vargas said. “Too many kids out here, too many people, that’s when she [her neighbor] said they were fighting, so she must have called. It was 12 o’clock the party still going on, 12:30 there you go, that’s when the chaos started.”
Vargas said dispatch told her the department was short staffed and couldn’t send officers at the time.
According to the homeowner who threw the party, her event was over by 10:30 Saturday evening. She stated the party was a birthday party for two of her children.
“The girls who were fighting and whoever was shooting may have been to the block party, but it had been shut down for almost two-hours when that shooting occurred,” stated the person who threw the party.
WANE 15 reached out to Fort Wayne Police multiple times for an update. The department said they could not speak about the incident and everything is still under investigation.