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Christmas bar shooting trial begins

Videos, vivid testimony depict scene

S. Lapsley

Zach Huddleston used to work 60-hour weeks, and among his jobs was standing on his young legs as a cook or a bartender at the Sports & Spirits Bar.

But on Christmas morning, as bullets flew through the plate-glass windows on the East Wayne Street side of the tavern, Huddleston found himself gravely injured – one bullet having traveled through his neck and another through his abdomen and into the femoral artery in his left leg.

He probably owes his life to a pair of officers who responded to the scene – Fort Wayne Police Officer Jason Fuhrman, a former basic emergency medical technician, and Indiana State Police Trooper Caleb Anderson – who shoved gauze into the wounds in his neck, slowing down the bleeding until paramedics arrived.

According to testimony Tuesday afternoon in Allen Superior Court, Huddleston is still recovering from his wounds, unable to stand for more than an hour at a time, and wearing a compression stocking to help reduce the risk of blood clots in his leg.

Huddleston, who wasn't working at the bar that night, was one of two people shot Christmas morning at the bar, 1723 E. Wayne St. Also injured was an off-duty employee who lost the tip of her pinky finger when it was struck by a bullet.

Allen County prosecutors charged Senaca V. Lapsley, 33, with two counts of aggravated battery, two counts of criminal recklessness using a firearm, one count of criminal recklessness by firing a gun into an occupied building, and being a habitual offender.

Huddleston told the jury he remembered feeling cold air on his body as he was taken to the ambulance. He remembered hearing sirens, and then he was unconscious for two days.

Over the past few months, as he recovered from a shattered jaw and other injuries, he has endured 10 surgeries and weeks of hospitalization.

Huddleston's testimony came after the jury saw videos showing the scene inside and outside the bar in the moments surrounding the shooting.

Lapsley was identified by the wounded bartender that night. Anna Roque testified that she knew his brother, Lorenzo Lapsley, and recognized Senaca Lapsley when the two came into the bar in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

The pair entered with one other man, all shown on video at 1:05 a.m. as they were patted down by bouncer Randy Daniels.

Within five minutes after their arrival, someone was starting a fight, and Daniels moved to intervene. Huddleston lent a hand, and they pushed the three men out the door. Someone threw a punch back through the open doorway into Daniels, who pushed back and shut and locked the door.

It was clear in the video footage that everyone inside the bar thought the drama was over. Huddleston put his hand on Daniels' shoulder as he walked by, then turned around as he walked past one of the pool tables.

At that second, glass shards flew through the air, and Huddleston's hand reached up and grabbed his throat. He stumbled and scrambled, falling back toward the end of the bar as other patrons ducked, avoiding other bullets coming through the glass.

Another video clip showed a man, whom witnesses identified as Senaca Lapsley, walking off the bar's stoop and pulling a pistol from inside his jacket as casually as a person might pull out a cellphone.

And just as easily, he fired off a number of rounds through the window into the bar. He then put the gun back under his coat and strode off down the sidewalk as if nothing was amiss.

Also testifying Tuesday afternoon was a woman who was in a relationship with Lapsley for 13 years. Tequila James said Lapsley had a gun on him that night when he went to another bar. On Christmas Day, she was awakened by a phone call from his mother, telling her the police were looking for him.

James said she asked him what he did, confronting him multiple times throughout the day amid the holiday celebration.

But when TV's late news came on at 11 p.m., Lapsley reacted to a story about the shooting.

“He said, ‘Damn, those look like my holes I put through that window,' ” she said.

The trial continues today.