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The Journal Gazette

Would-be burglar shot to death, police say


By Monday evening, all that remained from the deadly drama on the small front porch was a subtle smear where the blood had been wiped away.

Just before midnight Sunday, 33-year-old Ricardo M. Hood was shot to death on that concrete porch in the 300 block of Melita Street. His death marks the 35th homicide in Allen County this year.

The quiet street, barely more than a block long, is nearly void of houses and is made up most obviously by what appears to be an electric utility substation. The train tracks and an unkempt wooded area make up the north side of the street.

According to police, it appeared Hood was trying to burglarize one of the homes when the homeowner armed himself and shot him. Hood's death marks the second instance in the past six months a Fort Wayne resident fatally shot someone in self-defense.

The police dispatch logs show a brief entry – "shot a male who broke into his house"… "subject laying on front porch, (caller) believes he is (dead)."

Hood's criminal record was extensive. He had convictions for theft, failure to return to lawful detention, possession of marijuana, domestic battery, resisting law enforcement, receiving stolen auto parts and drunken driving, among others.

The list of his cases in the Allen County Superior Court record goes back to a 1998 misdemeanor for driving without ever having received a driver's license.

Released from prison in June after serving time for possession of marijuana, Hood had been on the HOPE probation program. Hoosiers Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, or HOPE, is a tougher-than-normal zero-tolerance probation program.

And Hood was failing it. According to court records, his suspended sentence had been revoked.

But again, in June, he was released from jail back to Allen Superior Court Judge Wendy Davis' program after he admitted the earlier violation of the program.

By August, another request was filed to have his probation revoked, and Davis signed an arrest warrant Aug. 12.

The warrant had not been served as of Sunday, according to court documents.

The man who lives in the little house on Melita Street declined to speak about the shooting Monday evening.

On Monday afternoon, after an autopsy, the Allen County Coroner's office issued a release, finding the cause of death to be gunshot wounds. Hood's death was declared a homicide.

Homicide, however, means merely that Hood died at the hands of another human being. It is not a criminal charge, and there is no indication whether the man who shot him will face criminal charges.

The shooting remains under investigation, according to the Fort Wayne Police Department.

On June 1, 16-year-old Omar Ruffin and 18-year-old Jaqueze Dandridge tried to rob two men sitting on a front porch in the area of West Packard and South Wayne avenues.

The two sneaked around the house, and Dandridge put a pellet gun to the neck of one of the men. Dandridge and the man fought.

The man pulled a handgun out of the waistband of his pants as they struggled and shot Dandridge three times.

Dandridge died, and Ruffin faces adult charges of felony murder – or participating in a crime in which someone was killed – and attempted armed robbery.