FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Tuesday afternoon, family members, activist groups and supporters gathered at the Allen County Courthouse to show support for the three young men who were gunned down last Wednesday.
More than 100 people gathered for the peaceful demonstration for victims, 19-year-old Joshua Cole Cooper, 19-year-old Anderson Retic and 20-year-old Jaylin Rice.
“To take two young men’s lives and to be that evil to take such a young life,” said Majorie Warfield, the great aunt of Cooper and Rice. “Their families won’t ever get to see them progress or where they will go in their life, it’s just cut.”
“Josh made a statement to his mom saying ‘I just want to live my life to the fullest’, and now that has been taken away from him,” said Venecia Smith, great aunt of Cooper and Rice.
Positive, outgoing, loving and smiles that lit up the room is how all three are described.
Cooper and Rice recently started new jobs and were looking for a fresh start. However that came to an end that Wednesday night, when Joseph D. Bossard, 32, allegedly gunned down the young men, leaving multiple families to grieve and a community with questions and seeking justice.
“We’re fighting not only for ourselves, but for the next generation that is coming after us. This is a powerful thing for us to stand here in support of the family first,” said Jazmine Williams, member of FIRM: Fighting Injustice and Racial Matters. “We want to make sure that these boys receive the justice to the fullest extinct that they deserve, because they do deserve that and their lives do matter.”
“We don’t want no corners cut. We don’t want no plea deal. We just want to make sure he is charged for the full extent of the law,” Smith said.
Cooper and Rice’s great aunts told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that they are extremely grateful and appreciative of the love and support from the community.
“We don’t have to be violent. We don’t have to be mean,” Warfield said. “I just want people to realize that this is a peaceful gathering and it’s not all about anger, it’s about getting justice.”
Allen County prosecutors on Tuesday charged Bossard with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and other charges of aggravated battery and criminal recklessness related to the triple shooting at the Shell gas station at 3170 E. State Blvd., at Hobson Road, around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday.
“Excited isn’t a word you really want to say, because at the end of the day two young men lost their lives,” said BiJay Stephens, member of FIRM. “The protest over the summer got so much hate because [people say], we were wasting our breathe, it’s not happening to us when we were protesting for George Flyod and Breonna Taylor. This kind of stuff happens in our city, this happens locally, this is happening to our black and brown women. The biggest thing to us is to come out and show support and show people it’s happening everywhere, not just in these big cities.”
According to family members, Rice is improving and will be out of ICU soon.
Bossard will be in court for his initial hearing Thursday.