FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – They exchanged gunfire in a south side alley that January night.
The two men had feuded before, according to investigators, and this time surveillance cameras caught muzzle flashes as they fired at each other in a dead-end space near a counselling center just off of Calhoun Street.
One man suffered a wound to his head and needed emergency surgery; the other limped away with a shattered pelvis and trauma to his groin. They both made their way to the same local hospital, where Fort Wayne Police ultimately arrested one and booked him into Allen County Jail on a preliminary count of attempted murder.
Flash forward six months.
The man who had been locked up is now walking free with all charges against him dismissed; the man he had been accused of trying to kill is facing felony charges of his own after being labelled the aggressor in the shootout.
Allen County Prosecutors formally charged 22-year-old Kyree C. Williams last week with two Level 6 felony counts of criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon in connection to the shooting, which left 24-year-old Jason R. Lea suffering from bleed to his brain.
Lea – who had been accused of trying to kill Williams once before in 2021 – was arrested days after the shootout on an attempted murder charge. Prosecutors formally charged him with a lesser felony count of aggravated battery and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.
They dismissed those charges last month – just two weeks shy of a scheduled trial, according to court records.
And while Lea had his court dates cancelled, Williams made his initial appearance in Allen Superior Court on Wednesday.
Williams is accused of firing first and instigating the shootout in what might have been an attempted ambush of Lea outside a restaurant, according to newly released Allen Superior Court documents.
In those documents, Lea and an underage witness with him told investigators they had been in a vehicle outside Alberto’s Mexican Restaurant at 2529 S. Calhoun St. after picking up take out on Jan. 25. That’s when a man dressed in black and wearing a dark face mask approached.
They said the man came from an alley across the street, raised a gun as they pulled away and began shooting, according to court documents.
Lea told detectives he had been hit in the arm at that point and drove away as the man ran away. Somehow, he said in court documents, they crossed paths again. The man in black began shooting at the car again and Lea shot back to defend himself, he told detectives.
In his interview with detectives, though, Williams claimed he was walking along Pontiac Street when he heard a car driving fast toward him. When he saw the lights of car coming at him, he said in court documents, he ran to an alley near Pontiac and Calhoun streets.
Williams said the driver of the car began shooting at him while he tried to run away. When he came to a building that blocked his path, he turned around and began to exchange fire, he said in court documents. Williams told detectives the car crashed into a pole and then some garbage cans.
He said he was able to find someone to take him to Downtown Lutheran Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which included gunshot wounds in his groin area and a broken pelvis. Lea had also fled the car and found a way to Downtown Lutheran Hospital, where he was taken in for surgery.
Investigators then gathered surveillance footage from the restaurant and various businesses in the area, according to court documents.
That footage shows Lea and a person with him get their takeout from Alberto’s, get into a car and drive westbound toward Clinton Street. Just as they do so, a man in black clothing runs from behind a nearby alley and fires a gun at the vehicle, according to court documents.
The man then ran across Calhoun Street with the gun in his hand, court documents said. More surveillance footage shows that same man run into the alley where the shootout happened, and it shows him running away with a limp in his gait afterward.
Surveillance footage from the hospital shows Williams walk into the emergency department wearing the same clothing, court documents said.
In an interview recorded at the prosecutor’s office in April, Williams’ attorney objected to questions regarding his client’s presence at the restaurant Lea happened to be at that night. The attorney advised his client to invoke his 5th Amendment rights, according to court documents.
Williams told investigators during that interview he defended himself in the shooting.
Previously, Lea had told detectives he believed a woman he knew had set him up to be shot by Williams, according to court documents.
Williams is currently out of jail on bond but must remain on monitored release while his case winds through the court system. He’s been ordered to have no contact with Lea, and his next court appearance is scheduled for September.