From the garage of his Fort Wayne home, Oster Jackson enjoys a lot of things: food, drink and socializing, to name a few.
But in April 2013, he witnessed a horrific act of violence as he watched a young man being chased and gunned down in a nearby alley.
Unlike some who witness such things, Jackson took action and reported the details of what he saw to Fort Wayne police, leading to the arrest of the shooter in just a few days.
I just did what I should’ve done; there’s no reason to feel afraid. Just step up and come forward and get these people off the streets, Jackson said Wednesday evening after the Fort Wayne Police Department honored him for his efforts.
Jackson’s Citizen Service Citation was just one of many awards the department gave to police officers and civilians at its annual awards ceremony.
The slaying that Jackson reported led to the arrest of Deadrian C. Boykins. He killed 17-year-old Elijah O. Freeman in a year that saw a record number of homicides in Allen County.
A jury convicted Boykins of murder in November, and he was sentenced to 65 years in prison. He later received an additional 20 years for attacking a jail guard on Christmas Day.
The killer ran after a young black man and riddled him with bullets. The victim tried to get up and shield his face and the killer then shot his hands and wrists, officer Michael Joyner, Fort Wayne police spokesman, said as he read from a letter to the editor from a juror in Boykins’ trial.
The letter went on to call Jackson a true gentleman and a hero and said it’s time for Fort Wayne residents to stop turning a blind eye to the city’s violence.
For Jackson, whose wife died just five months prior, there was no question as to what he should do with his knowledge of what he witnessed, despite any possible retaliation.
I don’t worry about anybody coming after me, he said.
Despite his confidence, Jackson did say a friend of Boykins targeted him on Facebook with threats, but Jackson brushed them aside.
He hopes others will clear their consciences and take similar actions to try to help get violent people off Fort Wayne’s streets.
If I hadn’t have came forward and done the right thing, there is no way I would’ve been able to sleep at night even today, Jackson said.
In the line of fire
When four police officers were called by a woman about her son’s mental condition, they knew they were about to encounter someone who could be armed and suicidal.
What they didn’t know was that their efforts to talk 22-year-old Ryan Koontz out of the house for a peaceful result would end with a gunfight and Koontz dead behind the wheel of a car he used to try to run over officers.
Police met with Koontz’s mother, Judy, at a nearby house and formed a plan where she would call Ryan and tell him he needed to help his father change a flat tire.
Sgts. Shane Coleman and Daniel Ingram, and officers Kenneth Jameson, now a sergeant, and Donald Lewis were getting into their positions around Koontz’s home when the situation suddenly changed.
As officers were taking up positions around the house, a shot rang out and officers began to seek cover, Joyner said as he recounted that Thursday in early May a year ago on Weymouth Court in northwest Fort Wayne.
Coleman realized his fellow officers were in the line of fire between him and Koontz and therefore stopped engaging Koontz so he could prevent any injuries to others. For that decision, he received the Meritorious Service Citation.
Meanwhile, the three other officers at the scene found themselves threatened not only by gunfire from a garage window but eventually by a car Koontz would drive at them from the home.
When the car finally came to a stop, Lewis did what he could to save the man officers at the scene had just shot in a gunbattle.
It is a testament to Lewis’ character and respect to human life, Joyner said.
When officers first arrived, they believed Koontz was upstairs, but the first shot came from a garage window.
As Jameson dived for cover, he called out where the shot had originated so his fellow officers would know where to take cover, Joyner said.
Officer Lewis would later say the simple statement from officer Jameson saved his life as it forced him to abandon cover that would have put him in immediate danger, Joyner said.
Jameson then ran from behind his cover and tried to get Koontz’s attention away from his fellow officers, who were pinned down by gunfire.
For the actions Jameson, Ingram and Lewis took that day, all received the top honor of the night: the department’s Medal of Honor.