7 min read

July 2, 2024 | High-profile investigation underway + more

July 2, 2024 | High-profile investigation underway + more

Hey Locals,

Happy Fourth of July week! Fort Wayne's sports scene is about to get an upgrade with an Olympic-sized swimming pool coming to town and a long-awaited stadium for Snider High School.

We also update you on last week's story about the officer-involved fatal shooting of 22-year-old Linzell Parhm and a high-profile legal investigation underway.

We have a new type of deal for paid subscribers in July, too.

This month: we're partnering with Dirt Wain to bring all paid subscribers one FREE month of their basic food scrap composting plan (a $21.50 value). Did you know we give our paid members a freebie every month at a local business to cover the cost of membership? See what a paid membership is all about with this 30-day trial.

Now, let's get started.

NOTE: Links to Journal Gazette articles are marked(*) and may be behind a paywall.

Update: The city released body camera footage of Linzell Parhm's fatal shooting by an FWPD officer, and multiple investigations are underway.

What’s happening?

Last week, we talked about the officer-involved fatal shooting of 22-year old Linzell Parhm during a traffic stop on June 22. While the city does not typically release police body camera footage to the public until an investigation is complete (which can take months), Mayor Sharon Tucker made an exception in this case, in part, because bystander footage of the incident was already going viral on social media.

Here's what we know so far:

  • Police body camera footage shows Parhm had a Draco AK pistol nearby in the car when he was shot. Parhm was in the front passenger seat and did not comply with FWPD Officer Mason N. Wills's orders to keep his hands on the dashboard during the traffic stop. As a result, Wills shot him twice, claiming he was fearing for his own life. Police have not yet released the nature of the traffic violation* that led Wills to pull over the car. The JG notes that a Draco AK pistol is a semi-automatic gun "preferred by rappers (and) gang members." The incident is still under investigation by the FWPD, the Indiana State Police and the Allen County prosecutor’s office.
  • Quick release of police body camera footage is not likely to be the "new norm." As a former City Councilwoman, Mayor Tucker championed a bill implementing mandatory body cameras for officers on duty, but she tells The JG* that quick public release of body camera footage in Parhm's case does not set a precedent, and "each situation that we encounter in the future will be handled on a case-by-case basis." In an editorial, The JG commended her leadership* for choosing to expedite the release of footage in this instance in response to public concerns.
  • Citizens held a peaceful protest last week and are urging Mayor Tucker to implement police reform. Last Thursday, more than 100 concerned citizens gathered at the Allen County Courthouse lawn to protest police brutality, particularly the FWPD's use of force against People of Color. The protest and a petition on Change.org with more than 2,000 signatures call on Mayor Tucker to implement police reform to create "a body that respects and safeguards human rights."
  • A high-profile, private legal investigation is also underway. Parhm's family has retained the renowned Indiana attorney Stephen M. Wagner (who was also involved in a lawsuit filed last year against county officials related to a suicide at the Allen County Jail). Wagner is partnering with national civil rights advocate Ben Crump to investigate Parhm's shooting. Crump previously represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Why it matters

While the loss of any life in Fort Wayne's community is reason enough for concern, there are a few additional reasons citizens should pay attention to Parhm's case. We break it down in our premium newsletter.

  • Fort Wayne is getting a new Olympic-sized swimming pool as part of a $50 million aquatic wellness facility expected to open by 2027 (location TBA). This June, Indianapolis used the pool to host the U.S. Olympic Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium. Now, a group called Fort Wayne Swim & Wellness has purchased and moved the pool here and is raising funds for a new facility to house it. The pool and future facility will allow the city to host national and regional swim invitationals, pro-series competitions, and collegiate championships, among other water activities and therapies. It is expected to generate about $20 million annually and create 250 jobs, according to a Purdue Fort Wayne study. There’s currently one other 50-meter pool in Fort Wayne used by nine high schools.
  • Snider High School is getting a long-awaited 4,000-seat stadium as part of $55 million in facility and equipment upgrades district officials are eyeing. No tax increase is expected to fund the projects. The stadium is estimated to cost $30 million and be ready for the fall 2026 season with a synthetic turf field and rubber running track, capable of hosting football, track, soccer, marching band and PE classes. Officials also believe the stadium will boost school spirit, as their football team (defending Class 5A state champions) currently plays home games at Northrop. Other FWCS campus projects include improvements to the Downtown Grile Administrative Center; turning storage into offices at the Family and Community Engagement Center; and $1 million benefitting Amp Lab at Electric Works.

Plus: a popular new Indiana law, local tax abatement reports and more. Read all about it in our premium newsletter.

New Deal: one FREE month of food scrap composting with Dirt Wain.

We fill you in on the only local, large-scale composting service – and its latest ventures into "real recycling."

A Dirt Wain compost bucket and real recycling "Zero Waste Bag" for difficult-to-recycle items, like fabrics and clothing.

What’s happening?

Dirt Wain is Fort Wayne's only local, large-scale composting company, started by artist and educator Brett Bloom in 2019. In July, we're partnering with them to bring all paid subscribers to The Local one FREE month of their basic food scrap composting plan (a $21.50 value), so you can see for yourself how simple – and powerful – composting can be.

  • How does it work? Use this link to sign up, and Dirt Wain will deliver a green bucket to your door, as well as four compostable bags for food scraps (one for each week). They'll come once a week to empty your bucket, and at the end of the month, you can choose to cancel with no obligations, if you aren’t satisfied. (When you sign up, they'll send you other details via email, including pickup times and a guide on what goes into your bucket.)
  • Why do it? Composting is critical to improving the environment and keeping methane emissions from organic waste out of the landfill. Dirt Wain makes it as simple as putting out your trash and recycling bins. Since the service started in 2019, it has diverted hundreds of tons of waste annually from the landfill. This year alone, it's approaching 300-400 tons of food scraps composted with more than 450 local households and businesses participating. Bloom says: "We hope that by offering one free month of our basic food scrap composting plan, people can try it and see if they like it and also see how easy it can be. In one month, you really see the difference in how much less trash you’re putting out, too."
  • You might also look into: Dirt Wain's "real recycling" for difficult-to-recycle items. Last year, we received a question from a reader about just how much of what we put into our recycling bins in Fort Wayne actually gets recycled. And what we learned is: while our recycling isn't technically going to the landfill, much of it is being downcycled when it could be upcycled in more sustainable – even profitable – ways. Dirt Wain's real recycling “Zero Waste Bags” are one solution, upcycling 24 categories of hard-to-recycle items that local recycling programs often leave behind, like toothpaste tubes, snack wrappers, and other common household goods.

Learn more about composting, real recycling and other local sustainability issues in our full story!

What else? Learn about more events in our premium newsletter.

Support The Local!

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Got a story tip or idea?

Let us know at thelocalfortwayne@gmail.com.

Have a great week, Locals!

-Your Editor, Kara Hackett