8 min read

June 25, 2024 | Officer-involved fatal shooting sparks protest

June 25, 2024 | Officer-involved fatal shooting sparks protest

Hey Locals,

This weekend, the officer-involved fatal shooting of 22-year-old Linzell Parhm sparked outrage and demands for police body camera footage, after a bystander video went viral on social media. We share what we know so far and details on a protest later this week.

On a lighter note, we also share updates on a performing arts center Downtown undergoing renovation and a permanent home for the Philharmonic, as well as a preview of long-awaited plans for North River.

Don't forget: In June, we're partnering with Pikoso Burrito Co. inside Union Street Market at Electric Works to bring all paid subscribers a FREE order of chips and salsa. 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, and you can get that chips and salsa.

Now, let's get started.

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The officer-involved fatal shooting of Linzell Parhm sparks protests on police brutality.

A poster for a protest following the officer-involved fatal shootings of Parhm, Warren-Hill and others.

What’s happening?

Around 10:30 p.m. Saturday, a Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD) officer initiated a traffic stop with 22-year old Linzell Parhm of Fort Wayne in a car at the corner of John and Hurd streets. During the stop, the officer fired a gun twice at Parhm, who was taken to a hospital and died from his injuries. The officer's identity was not released, and they were placed on administrative leave, per FWPD policy.

  • Initially: FWPD said in a news release that “actions from occupants inside the vehicle caused the officer to discharge their weapon." Police did not immediately release body camera footage of the incident, as the shooting remains under investigation by the FWPD, the Indiana State Police, the Allen County prosecutor’s office and the county coroner’s office.
  • However: video of the incident (recorded by a bystander) went viral on social media Sunday, revealing details about the case. By Sunday evening, public outcry prompted Mayor Sharon Tucker to issue a statement, acknowledging residents' concerns and reassuring them that she's in communication with the FWPD. By Monday, Tucker addressed the media again, this time, reiterating the importance of body camera footage and saying: "Once the family has had the opportunity to view the video, the City of Fort Wayne will release the body camera footage to the media and the public."

Here's what we've gathered so far:

  • Parhm was a 2020 South Side graduate and a barber who also served as a mentor and director at the Euell Wilson Center, a Christian organization for youth in Southeast. The center posted on Facebook: "Linzell's smile could change the mood of any room, and he smiled often, capturing the hearts of everyone. He had an amazing gift of connecting with anyone, and always saw the good in people. Linzell worked tirelessly to ensure all youth at the center felt a sense of belonging, and he cared so deeply for his family and his community." Outside the center, citizens created a memorial with flowers, candles and a balloon that reads, “RIH Zelly We love you,” WANE 15 reports.
  • It is unclear why the officer initiated a traffic stop with Parhm and whether anyone in the car had a weapon. Reporting on bystander footage of the incident, 21 Alive says the officer tells someone in the car: “Don’t reach for that f****** gun.” (But we couldn't make out those words.) Police have not yet reported that they recovered any weapons from the scene. Instead, the bystander footage shows the bystander (unseen) approaching a white male police officer standing outside a red car's passenger window with his gun drawn and aimed into the car. The bystander is heard telling the officer he is recording, and the officer tells him to stay back. The bystander continues to approach the scene and yells "put your hands up" repeatedly to someone inside the car. The officer also yells something before firing two shots into the car.
  • Residents are relating the case to the recent police-involved fatal shooting of 20-year-old DaChe’na Warren-Hill. In March, Allen County Prosecutor Mike McAlexander announced his decision to not file criminal charges against FWPD officer Mark Guzman, who fatally shot Warren-Hill while responding to an incident last November, in which Warren-Hill appears to be fleeing a domestic dispute by driving a car through a yard. Body camera footage of the incident was released months after Warren-Hill's death, which showed details of the incident were inaccurately reported by the FWPD. In early reports, police said the car driven by Warren-Hill was trying to hit Guzman, prompting him to shoot. “The video doesn’t really support that,” McAlexander said. Warren-Hill's family has also disputed this.
  • The families of Parhm and Warren-Hill, along with other concerned citizens, are holding a protest this week outside the Allen County Courthouse. After an initial gathering on Sunday, citizens are planning to gather Thursday, noon-6 p.m., on the courthouse lawn for a peaceful protest against police brutality and the killings of Parhm, Warren-Hill and "all overlooked FWPD victims."

This story is still developing. We will report back when we know more.

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  • You can meet with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management about the air pollution and permitting for Google's data center in Fort Wayne. The state department set a public hearing for July 1 at 6 p.m. after receiving “several comments” about air permitting for the data center, which has 34 diesel-fired emergency generators. "The department lists a few 'insignificant activities,' including a diesel-fired emergency guard house generator, a diesel-fired emergency fire pump, 36 diesel storage tanks and 14 cooling towers," The JG reports.* Diesel fumes are carcinogenic, and cooling systems can also release harmful pollutants into the air, which can contribute to acid rain and smog. Data centers also use excessive amounts of energy, which often comes from fossil fuel-based sources and contributes to carbon emissions. The meeting will be held at the Ivy Tech Community College Coliseum Campus, Room CC1640, at 3800 N. Anthony Blvd. Written comments can be sent to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management by July 8.
  • The Fort Wayne Philharmonic is getting a permanent home Downtown, as part of plans for properties on Ewing and Berry streets formerly owned by the University of Saint Francis (USF). USF opened its Downtown campus about eight years ago, including a Business Center on Ewing Street and the Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center on Berry nearby. Now, thanks to an anonymous $5.5 million donation, the Phil will own the Business Center, and Chuck Surack's Sweet Real Estate has purchased the arts center (as well as its large parking lot and nearby Mizpah Shrine building) for about $4 million. Yesterday, Sweet Real Estate and USF announced plans for an estimated $30 million renovation to update and restore the theatre to its original glory, so it can house "all forms of artistic expression with a particular focus on music." USF's music technology program will remain in the Music Technology Center at Berry Street and Fairfield Avenue. USF President Lance Richey calls the plans* "a winning scenario for everyone" and "an important step" in Fort Wayne's ambitions to be a Top 10 music city.

Plus: a large nonprofit acquisition, a new restaurant, school board updates and more. Read all about it in our premium newsletter.

What's next for riverfront development?

Details on the Treeline District coming to North River.

A rendering of the Treeline District on North River by Browning Real Estate Partners.

What’s happening?

Last week, city officials announced they will be working with Indianapolis-based Browning Real Estate Partners to redevelop the more than seven-acre, former Pepsi warehouse site along North River, starting in 2025. It will become the Treeline District – a mixed-use destination with housing, retail, parking and extended riverfront space, including a new park connected to the Tree Canopy Trail and existing amenities.

  • You might remember: the area is bound by Harrison, Wells and Second streets as well as the St. Marys River – the same property another development group (DOMO and partners) publicly pitched a flashy $1.5 billion proposal for last fall (before they were awarded the project). Their plans included an arena, soccer stadium, natatorium and more. While some of this is now off the table, DOMO still owns several properties along High Street, where it has demolished structures and will likely redevelop.
  • What happens next? The first phase of the Treeline District is expected to include about 250 apartment units, 7,500 sq. ft. of retail and a public parking garage, as well as street and utility infrastructure improvements. Until then, Phase IIb of Riverfront public open space is underway, extending west to Ewing Street and east to Clinton Street and expected to be complete by fall 2025.

What are neighbors saying? And can the Downtown market sustain more retail? Read all about it in our premium newsletter.

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

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Have a great week, Locals!

-Your Editor, Kara Hackett