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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A man charged in the shooting deaths of two men and injuries of another at a gas station in 2021 was sentenced Friday and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
A judge sentenced Joseph D. Bossard to 190 years– 65 years for each murder charge, 40 for attempted murder, and a 20-year enhancement for using a firearm.
In the two and a half years since three young Black men were shot at an East State Boulevard gas station, few details have been released.
Anderson Retic, 19 and Joshua Cole Cooper, 19, lost their lives that night on a snowbank on Hobson Road. Jaylin Rice, 20, was gravely wounded, but escaped death, even managing to get out of the small sedan to seek a neighbor’s aid. He was turned away at the first knock, lead homicide detective Donald Lewis said, his voice cracking on the stand. When help came, it was too late.
In the ensuing years, the court case was filled with competency hearings and trial delays as the families kept their own counsel, staying close to Allen County prosecutors Tom Chaille and Tesa Helge.
The silence ended Friday with the sentencing of Joseph Bossard, now 34, to 190 years in prison – 65 years for both of the deceased, 40 years for the attempted murder of Rice and another 20 years for the gun enhancement – using a firearm in the commission of a crime. His plea agreement dropped life without parole the prosecution initially sought.
There was no extra language mentioning Bossard’s mental illness, but his attorneys Travis Friend and Donald Swanson said he’d suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for years and that he had a history of not taking his medications, despite efforts by family.
Chief Counsel Tesa Helge said the fact that Bossard chose his victims based on their race was considered for sentencing and found to be an aggravating circumstance.
The victim’s families dismissed the mental illness claim because other people suffering from the same types of mental illness are not killing people.
They spoke of their pain and bewilderment at the mic, as they pleaded with Allen Superior Court Judge David Zent to give Bossard the maximum for his racially-motivated crimes. Cooper and Rice were cousins and their families were united on one side of the packed courtroom, the Retic side taking up the other.
Something the public never heard was the racial factor. Bossard, who is white, followed Anderson Retic into the Shell gas station at East State and Hobson Road, calling him a racial slur and telling him he would die. Retic walked out of the store and asked the other two to come in because “something had happened,” Rice said at the mic. Cooper stayed in the car, but Rice went in with his friend.
“I was totally shocked. I didn’t think we were going to pull up and have all that stuff go down inside and outside of the store,” Rice said Friday.
“It just kept going on word after word after word. I’d never seen in him a day in my life.”
They were at the gas station around 6 p.m. that night of Feb. 18, 2021, to fill up the car of Retic’s pregnant girlfriend, a cold night with snow on the ground, including high snowbanks on down Hobson Road.
A high definition video shown in court Friday corroborated Rice’s testimony and Lewis’s recounting of the facts. Later Zent said Bossard was pleading guilty to murder, but also pleading guilty to reality. Some people left the courtroom as the video got closer to the shooting and no one could avoid watching Bossard nearly mow down Rice with his red pickup truck as he stood outside the sedan at the pump.
At the confrontation at the pump, Bossard had given the young men his address and told them to meet him at his home, Lewis said. Rice managed to remember the address in the 2200 block of Laverne Avenue, very close to the corner of East State.
Law enforcement wasted no time disseminating a photo of Bossard to the media, but it was Det. Mark Gerardot circling the area who saw the red truck parked outside Bossard’s house. Less than five hours after he shot and killed two young men and gravely wounded a third, Bossard surrendered to the Fort Wayne Police Department. High tech equipment indicated the truck had recently been driven.
In the courtroom, right there on video, people watched Bossard’s come back around to Retic’s car. Bossard jumped out of the truck and went to the driver’s side, shooting bullets into the car that hit Cooper sitting in the back seat and Retic, the driver.
But the story got much worse, so bad in fact, that an emotional outburst by one family member forced Lewis to stop in the middle of his recitation.
Lewis sat in the front, across from Zent, and told the court that Bossard followed the car driven by Retic south on Hobson, only Rice had to take over the wheel because Retic was dying and unable to drive.
The car veered wildly as Rice steered with one hand and worked the accelerator and brake with his foot. The car went into a snowbank on the west side of Hobson and Bossard continued his pursuit, jumping out of the car wielding his 9mm gun.
The near mortally wounded Retic was attempting to speak when Bossard shot him in the face and neck, Lewis said. Retic’s grandmother, Shirley Spinks, said because of that, the family couldn’t have an open casket.
“I saw that video,” Retic’s grandmother, Shirley Spinks said in court. “You shot him in his head and face. What you did to him was so vicious. You have no idea of the number of people you have hurt.” Any chance he would get parole, Steven vowed she would be there in protest.
“It was my car you shot up,” the mother’s of Retic’s third child said in court. There was shattered glass and blood. “Anderson and Joshua were lying on the ground like they were nothing to us. I hope you rot in there. I hate to wish that.”
Cooper was not spared from the carnage, but was shot in the back of the head.
At the snowbank, the car immobile, Bossard is at the car and “reaches past (Retic) to try to execute Jaylin Rice,” Lewis said. When he misses “he redirects his gun back to Joshua,” who is shot in the back of the head. Lewis stopped to get control of emotion.
“I do a lot of these,” Lewis said, “but this is a bad one.”
After Jaylin Rice knocks on doors, bystanders are stopping by to help. One video circulating close to the time of the homicides showed an officer pumping the chest of one of the victims. Rice lost a kidney, had to learn to walk again and admitted to the judge that “this still affects me to this day.”
Cooper’s mother, Shenell Rice, was the first to sit at the prosecutor’s table and talk to the judge.
“You are pure evil,” she said to Bossard whose unkempt hair is longer than in his mugshot and his beard, untrimmed. She sat on a sofa that night, sensing that something wasn’t right.
“I called Josh multiple times,” Shenell recalled. She got a phone call that Jaylin was shot and asked if Joshua was with him, but the caller said he didn’t think so.
“In my heart I knew my child was gone,” she said after the detective called her and just before he told her son was dead. She broke down on the stand.
Josh “was my everything. I lived for my child. You took a piece of me I’ll never get back.”
Her son “always saw the best in everyone.” Bossard “doesn’t deserve to see the light of day ever again.”
Rice and Cooper were cousins, so both families, intertwined sat together, some of them wearing T-shirts in solidariy.
Shaunda Hall said she was the aunt of Rice and Cooper.
“This is my family. I watched these boys grow up. We’ve always been extremely close,” she said.
Helge asked that the racial bias be entered into the sentence, but Swanson argued against it, saying that by including it, it would inflame the community. It was kept out, but Zent didn’t ignore it.
“Candidly, you executed these men because they were black,” Zent told Bossard.
That the crimes were racially motivated made it hurt even more, Spinks said. “All the while I was asking myself was this racially motivated. I just didn’t know. It answered the question I had.”
Hall said the families were “thankful that the racial aspect was acknowledged and that’s not something that can keep being swept under the rug. It is a reality and it was acknowledged today and we’re thankful for that.”