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CSI: Fort Wayne's North Side
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
It seems like crime is heating up near or in my neighborhood, and that's disturbing. For years, the north side of Fort Wayne lorded it over the south side, making jokes about most of the city's crime happens below Jefferson boulevard and east of U.S. 27/Lafayette Street. Heck, it seemed like until a few years ago, there was no reason to go downtown after six p.m., because it was a ghost town. If you did go downtown, it was to go to the library or get mugged, since there wasn't any reason to walk around.
But it's different now. Fort Wayne's downtown has pubs, boutiques and restaurants galore, and when baseball season begins, Parkview Field keeps the lights on well after the games are over. It's so bright, you could perform surgery within a block of the ballpark. I don't know if it's that, but I think people certainly feel safer. During the Pokemon Go phase, I saw people wandering around, downtown, seemingly without a care in the world. They weren't worried about getting mugged, they were worried about catching them all.
But yeah, the area around my little working-class neighborhood is jumping, and not in a good way. There were a couple of shootings on Washington Center Road, maybe a mile apart, a few months ago. Last summer, a guy held his son hostage with a machete while Fort Wayne police parked what seemed like its entire fleet of vehicles, including that tank-like thing that well, looks like a tank and dispenses stun bombs or something, on Northcrest Drive. While the drama unfolded, I chatted with a guy who lived on the street and both of us tried to figure out exactly what house it was. A few months later, there was another standoff, same house, and the hostage taker was killed. The house still stands, but with plywood blocking the front door and at least one window.
And just tonight, I was walking Daphne when I saw two police cars flanking a PT Cruiser. The driver had picked up a guy who had been walking in front of me, while I was out jogging. I moved out of the way when the car followed me down the street. I didn't think anything more of it until I went back out again with Daphne, and saw the exact same car on the same corner where the guy got in, only now the police were there.
It's scary. But I remember back in the day when my mom had a paper route when she was transitioning from restaurant work to something less stressful with a bit more autonomy, we found out one of the houses she'd delivered to was a drug house. This was back in the 80s, when cocaine was king. I never found out what drug they were dealing.
But this new activity is hard getting used to. Shootings on one of the main thoroughfares bordering my subdivision, a hostage situation on the street in back of me last summer, and tonight's little incident. Not to mention two hostage situations last summer, another standoff, and a dead neighbor. (I didn't know him, but still.) Either the troublemakers are tired of the south side, or maybe looking for a change of scene, or want to take the north side, with successful businesses of all kinds, 24-hour grocery stores and a brand-new Aldi's (I'm beyond excited about this—I can walk there, for Pete's sake) down a peg or two. I'd gladly let the south side have a few strip clubs and a grocery store open 24/7 if it meant fewer shootings in ALL areas of the city. Can't we all just get along?
When I was out jogging that same night, a woman taking some trash out was concerned for me. She told me she'd lived there 47 years, and if I ever needed help, to let her know. I was touched by her concern, and thanked her. So maybe there's hope.