FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –After he got into the rear passenger seat of a Nissan Pathfinder in the West State Kroger parking lot one November evening in 2018, it didn’t take long for Terrence Wintrode to pull out his Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol and demand money, according to witnesses quoted in a newly released probable cause affidavit.
That’s when he’s accused of pulling the trigger and shooting a man in the chest, according to that affidavit.
There were three people in that Pathfinder – the driver, victim Brinden Hall-Fletcher in the front passenger seat and another friend behind Hall-Fletcher. The friend in the back struggled with Wintrode after Wintrode allegedly shot Hall-Fletcher in the chest, court documents said.
Meanwhile, the driver, in a deft move, got his gun and shot at Wintrode three times over his left shoulder after he saw Hall-Fletcher clutch his chest, according to those court documents. He then saw the blood when Hall-Fletcher took his hand away.
Arrested Monday as he walked into the Whitley County probation department in Columbia City in pajama pants and sandals, Wintrode is facing formal charges of murder, felony murder and attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.
He is being held without bond at the Allen County Jail.
A few days after the homicide, lead homicide detective R.J. Sutphin met with Wintrode to collect a swab for DNA analysis. “How much time am I looking at,” he asked Sutphin, according to court documents. He then declined to give a formal interview, court documents said.
The two other men who thought they’d come to the parking lot to buy marijuana pushed Wintrode out of the Pathfinder after the shooting and sped to Parkview Randallia where Hall-Fletcher would later be pronounced dead, court documents said.
Wintrode’s arrest was a long time coming for Hall-Fletcher’s family who never gave up hope in the five intervening years that it would happen. The wait is agonizing, homicide families say.
“His mom and brother and I all have had a rough five years,” Raymond Cowan told WANE Wednesday in a text message. “This helps us a little bit, but the loss of a child will never go away. Every day was a struggle with us. I’ve called others by my son’s name. When we look at pictures in our house, it’s hard not to cry or to feel extremely angry. It makes every day a challenge.”
Cowan, who has been out of state this week, praised the tenacity of the FWPD’s homicide unit, the work of the Allen County Prosecutor’s office and the emotional support from JAVA, a local grassroots advocacy group.
According to court documents, the two surviving witnesses said the meetup with Wintrode was to purchase marijuana and one of the witnesses said he had bought weed from Wintrode three times before the incident. One of those purchases was a loan and when they were to meet with Wintrode that night, Nov. 12, 2018, around 6 p.m., he intended to pay the loan and buy more marijuana.
But, that witness said in court documents, Wintrode got into the car and pulled out his gun, demanding money, just before he shot Hall-Fletcher. There was no reason given as to why Hall-Fletcher was the one who got shot; he wasn’t the one who arranged to meet Wintrode there.
That witness also told police he threw two guns out of the car as they drove to the hospital. Those two guns were a .9 mm Hi-Point pistol and a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.
The night of the shooting, officers found Wintrode suffering from gunshot wounds next to his silver Nissan Altima he’d driven to the scene. He was taken to Parkview Regional Medical Center and his vehicle was searched.
Police found more than 80 Xanax pills, 307 grams – or about 11 ounces – of marijuana, and an extended gun magazine containing 26 .40 caliber cartridges.
DNA samples collected from the .40 caliber pistol showed a mixture of profiles consistent with Hall-Fletcher and Wintrode, but the other two men didn’t show up in the samples.
A .40 caliber cartridge casing located in the rear of the Pathfinder and the projectile recovered from Hall-Fletcher’s body during the autopsy were identified as being fired from the Smith & Wesson .40 caliber pistol.
Wintrode appeared in court for an initial hearing Wednesday, and is not due back in court until Nov. 27, according to court records.