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Police and fire

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Allen County Sheriff's Department
From left: Brandon Marcus Hardy, Charles Louis Phillips Jr. and Christopher Lynn Ladd

Past crimes give clues to shootout

Gang histories key to curb violence

– It's September 2002 and there's a party on Rockhill Street.

Later, those who were there will tell police it was thrown by a woman dating a local gang member.

They'll say rival gang members drove by and a flurry of gunshots rang out, so many that officials will compare it to something straight out of the Wild West.

Three people end up dead.

Now it's 2003.

At a gas station just off South Anthony Boulevard, two rival gang members are in an argument and one pulls a gun.

The shooting isn't fatal, but it lands one man in the hospital and another in prison for six months.

The links between these two stories are then-19-year-old Brandon Marcus Hardy, who was questioned for firing a shotgun at the Rockhill party, and then-19-year-old Dawann L. Martin, who was convicted of shooting the man at the gas station.

Back then, both men claimed loyalty to a gang called the 7 Figs, short for "Seven Figures."

If information released by Fort Wayne police is any indication, neither man has left his past behind.

Hardy, now 31, and Martin, now 30, were among five men injured in what police are calling a gang shootout at Lafayette Street and East Tillman Road early Sunday.

Every person involved is a gang member, police said, though they did not release the names of the gangs.

The shooting took no one's life, but along with Hardy and Martin, it left three others ages 19 to 22 injured.

And it came just days after the police department's announcement of a new gang unit bent on curbing the city's violence.

Rival gangs

None of the men has been arrested in connection with Sunday's shooting.

Police have released few details about what led to the shooting, which happened at 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

First, there was a disturbance at a local bar, which police have not identified.

Investigators believe rival gang members then chased each other in cars to Lafayette and East Tillman, firing at each other.

Two of the victims were later found outside a house in the 1800 block of Fox Point Trail, near South Anthony Boulevard about a mile from the intersection.

About 20 minutes later, two men suffering from gunshot wounds walked into a local hospital.

Five minutes later, another man walked into a different hospital suffering from gunshot wounds.

Along with Martin and Hardy, 22-year-old Kavonte Lamar Bingham; 19-year-old Charles Louis Phillips Jr.; and 19-year-old Christopher Lynn Ladd were wounded.

Police did not say which men ended up outside the home on Fox Point Trail and which men ended up at hospitals.

Updated conditions for each of the men were not available, though one at the time of the shooting had been listed in critical.

The others were either listed in serious or good condition, police said at the time.

Though young, the three men under 30 have criminal records.

Ladd, Bingham and Phillips have been arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of carrying a handgun without a license in the past two years.

While Ladd and Phillips were convicted, Bingham pleaded guilty to a more serious felony count of altering a handgun's identifying marks.

Phillips, meanwhile, is awaiting trial on a felony battery count.

He and another man, 20-year-old Kulon N. Lewis Jr. – whose deceased father was a noted gang member in Fort Wayne – are accused of beating a man and holding him captive for several hours.

Phillips has a trial scheduled for May.

Hardy's and Martin's criminal pasts go back much farther.

Past crimes

Like the younger men involved in the shooting, Hardy and Martin both had misdemeanor charges of carrying a handgun without a license– and other convictions – levied against them while young.

They were later arrested for the same charges again, making those felony counts against them.

While Hardy was never implicated or charged with a crime in the 2002 Rockhill shooting, his firing of a shotgun during the party violated his probation from a previous charge.

That charge came several months before the party, when a handgun was found in the glove box of Hardy's car at South Side High School.

After the Rockhill party, he was given 18 months in prison.

In 2012, he was given a three-year prison sentence for carrying a handgun without a license.

The Indiana Department of Corrections listed Hardy's release date as this past summer.

For shooting a rival gang member in 2003, Martin was given a six-month prison sentence as part of a plea agreement.

In 2004, he was a victim of a shooting outside a nightclub and served prison time for possession of cocaine and felony possession of a handgun without a license.

Department of Corrections records listed his release date as December 2012.

While police have not said what gangs are operating in the city, they did identify one man who was arrested in a non-fatal double shooting last week at Decatur and Dawnan roads as a member of the MOB gang.

That shooting took place within a mile of Sunday's shooting, and also within a mile of a shooting at a housing complex on Serenity Drive last week.

Police, though, have not said publicly whether these recent shootings are connected.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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