The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 11:44 am

Demonstration draws attention to killings

Ashley Sloboda | The Journal Gazette

People crowded the shoveled sidewalks outside the Allen County Courthouse Tuesday morning, wearing Black Lives Matter masks and carrying signs with such messages as "Justice 4 Three" and "Hold him accountable #racial bias."

The crowd was mourning last week's fatal shootings of 19-year-olds Anderson Retic and Joshua Cole Cooper, and they called for an attempted murder charge for the shooting that injured Jaylin Rice, also 19.

Joseph Bossard, 32, was formally charged Tuesday with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He also faces charges of aggravated battery and criminal recklessness along with a sentencing enhancement for using a gun to commit the crime.

Marjorie Warfield, a great-aunt of Cooper and Rice, grieved the lives taken Feb. 17 at a gas station on East State Boulevard at Hobson Road.

Authorities have said an argument preceded the shooting.

"We all get angry," Warfield said, "but do you have to take?"

Warfield, who wore a Justice 4 Three mask, described the way Cooper could light up a room, and she shared fears about her grandchildren's safety. She worries whether they ever will be harmed while getting gas.

"He just took so much from us," Warfield said.

ChangeMakers, a local social activist group also part of Tuesday's demonstration, is urging Fort Wayne officials to prosecute Bossard to the fullest extent possible. They also want the investigation to reflect the shooter's possible racial motivations.

Bossard is white. The three men shot were Black.

Fort Wayne police have not suggested a possible motive for the shooting.

College student Leticia Johnson said minorities need to unite to effect change.

"We shouldn't have to worry about the next generation," she said.

ChangeMakers is also demanding a fair and thorough investigation including full release of statements, interviews, records, video footage, recordings and 911 calls; and that no plea deals are offered.

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