FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Allen County prosecutors formally charged two 17-year-old boys as adults with attempted murder and robbery Thursday.
According to Allen Superior Court records, the charges stem from an incident on Nov. 2, when Fort Wayne police investigated a double-shooting in the 1400 block of Swinney Avenue that left a man in life-threatening condition and a boy in stable condition. The investigation ultimately led to the arrest of two then-unnamed 17-year-olds on attempted murder charges.
According to court records, warrants were issued Thursday morning for Jeremiah C. Johnson and Antron L. Pearson Jr. And according to statements those involved later made to investigators, the shooting happened over a vape deal gone wrong.
Around the same time of the Nov. 2 incident, a shooting victim called 911 saying he was on his way to the hospital with his brother, who had also been shot.
Emergency dispatchers then received another report of the shooting, which led investigators to the scene when a caller told dispatch they were following the suspect car involved in a drive-by shooting, according to court documents.
Officers at the hospital spoke with one of the victims- who was about to be taken into surgery for critical injuries- who said he sells THC vape cartridges and weed. The victim said in court documents he was never paid back for some cartridges a while back and the person who had ghosted him sent a message on Instagram asking for more weed and promising to pay him back.
The victim told officers he got a ride from the other victim and they pulled up to an alley off Broadway. He said the suspects came up to the car window, but when one of them showed the money in his wallet, the victim could tell the cash was fake. Before they could drive away, the suspect closest to him pointed a gun at his head and the other suspect pointed a gun at the car, according to court documents.
The victim told officers he threw out the bag of marijuana he intended to sell and twisted in his seat, afraid he would be shot in the face.
That’s when he heard gunshots and saw the blood.
In court documents, the victim went on to say he was frustrated he hadn’t brought his own gun and “knew it was a mistake to not have one today.”
The other victim, who told police he was initially afraid to give a statement due to the nature of the confrontation, said one of the suspects had a 9-millimeter pistol and the other had a Glock.
FWPD arrived at the scene of the shooting and found the suspects near Riedmiller Avenue. Police noted both teenagers looked nervous and were visibly shaking and out of breath, the court documents said. As an officer patted down Pearson, Johnson walked up to a car with a driver inside- later identified in court documents as a third suspect- and got into their passenger seat despite being told by the officer to stay still.
Johnson allegedly locked the car door and refused to come out until the officer drew her firearm, according to court documents. When Johnson finally stepped out, he ran away into a nearby alley. The officer pursued him but lost sight of him, and other officers found him on Phenie Street between Hale and Taylor streets, court documents said.
Police discovered Johnson had with him a vape device that had the letters “AMB” in gold cursive. He also had his phone, with “AM baby SNAKe” written on it.
K9 officers came to the scene to search the area Johnson had run away, and they tracked down a clear plastic bag that appeared to have marijuana, police said in the documents. A 9-millimeter pistol was also found that officers said was empty and had the same gold writing as the vape.
Crime scene technicians found a black medical face mask and a fake $100 bill along with 12 total shell casings at the scene and in the victim’s car.
Detectives found Instagram messages from the username “amb.30sh0tz”, also known as “Baby SNAKE”, confirming they were going to meet up with the victims. Johnson would later tell police “AMB” stands for “All My Brothers”, which represented his close circle. However, when confronted about the same symbol on the gun and the supposed weed found nearby, Johnson said both must have been Pearson’s.
While Pearson wouldn’t speak to police and asked for a lawyer, Johnson told detectives it all started when plans fell through for him and Pearson to go to a girl’s house. Johnson said the driver- whose car he later tried to escape from officers in- picked him and Pearson up, dropping them off near Taylor and Broadway.
Johnson told officers they heard gunshots and saw a dark-colored car with tinted windows driving away with screeching tires. Johnson said he was scared for his life when police arrived and pointed a gun at him, so he took off running. In his statement to investigators, he added both he and Pearson had never owned a gun or even shot one before. He later amended that statement, telling officers he had shot a gun but not in the last month.
Although Johnson confirmed the Instagram account was his, he denied being the one to message the victim from his account, and said he did not know the person who was shot.
The driver who picked them up told police he often gives Pearson a ride, so he picked him up along with Johnson. After dropping them off, the driver got a call from Pearson, who sounded out of breath, asking the driver to pick them up again because “things got ‘hectic'”, according to court documents.
The driver told investigators police arrived before he could pick up the teenagers, and Johnson got into his passenger seat anyway and told him to “Drive! Drive! Drive!” according to court documents. The driver said he didn’t know what was going on so he didn’t drive away, and that’s when Johnson ran out into the alley. He told police he didn’t see anyone with a gun and he didn’t think anything suspicious was in his vehicle.
Although Pearson had initially refused to talk with police, he asked one of the officers what would happen next because the unknown was weighing on him, court documents said. When the officer told him it was an ongoing investigation, Pearson started talking.
Pearson then told police he “knew the guy that got shot but didn’t do anything.” Police noted in the documents they did not reveal the victims’ names to the suspects and the incident was not common knowledge, so Pearson would not have known who had been shot if he was not directly involved.
Investigators gathered footage from the area where the shooting took place and saw Johnson and Pearson on tape running away to evade detection, court documents said. The footage also showed Johnson holding a large object in his jacket pocket that police believe was a firearm.
After Johnson was arrested Monday, he spoke to detectives again and told them he had nothing to do with the shooting but Pearson was involved. Police noted that statement differed from what Johnson originally told officers the night of the shooting. Johnson then told him he had originally lied.
According to Johnson’s new statement, he and Pearson were in the area but had walked away from each other, and a short time later gunshots rang out and Pearson was nowhere to be found. Johnson said he happened to run into Pearson a few minutes later. When police arrived to the scene, Johnson said he got into the car hoping he could convince police he had nothing to do with it and he was just with the driver, who Johnson then accused of locking him in the car rather than it being Johnson’s own doing.
The teens are both charged as adults with Level 1 felony counts of attempted murder, Level 2 felony counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, Level 3 felony counts of armed robbery and an enhancement count of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Both Pearson and Johnson were booked into Allen County Jail on Thursday morning.