Saturday, October 25, 2014

Next-door neighbor encountered break-in two weeks ago

Frances Ave. residents say the neighborhood has changed
Posted on Oct. 5, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — Looking back, Jonathan Leazenby probably feels fortunate.

Leazenby encountered a break-in at his home two weeks ago that foreshadowed a deadly turn of events Wednesday for his next- door neighbor.

It was a Friday afternoon two week ago and Leazenby was upstairs in the house he shares with his mom when he heard two loud bangs downstairs that were then followed by the sound of footsteps.

Leazenby, 35, went downstairs to investigate and heard what he believed were intruders fleeing out the back door they had just kicked in.

Later that day, after calling police, Leazenby did what neighbors do. He talked to his next-door neighbor about the break-in.

Leazenby recalled speculating that his encounter probably meant they were momentarily safe from another such incident, saying, “I don’t think somebody would be stupid enough to commit another crime like that because police would be looking at the area.”

A neighbor, Leazenby recalled, added, “People are crazy these days.”

On Wednesday, Leazenby’s neighbor, who lives at 1919 Frances Ave., was caught in the middle of what might have been another home invasion that left one man dead and two teens facing possible murder changes.

Police have not identified the shooter or details of the incident, but neighbors expressed sympathy and concern for the 54-year-old man, who The Elkhart Truth is declining to identifying because he appears to be a victim of a crime.

“He’s a good guy,” Leazenby said. “Good neighbor.”

Leazenby has lived on Frances Avenue his entire life and said he thought problems with crime had improved in recent years.

“I’m guessing it’s the same group,” Leazenby said.

Tim Shorter, who lives on Frances Avenue, south of the shooting, watched the scene unfold Wednesday night until after authorities removed the body of the shooting victim more than six hours after police first responded.

He said he talked with the homeowner Wednesday night.

“He was very distraught and very saddened with what happened,” Shorter said. “I pray for his family and him, too.”

“We gotta do something to stop this chaos,” Shorter said.

Dusty Earnhart, who has lived on Frances Avenue for 42 years, said she’s aware of numerous break-ins in recent months.

The house directly across from her home was spray-painted with what she believes was gang-related graffiti more than once this summer.

She said she counted 13 incidents in a three-block span that had been vandalized with spray paint.

Earnhart said she was alerted to Wednesday’s shooting by her two dogs. She said she stepped outside and counted 26 police vehicles that had descended on the crime scene.

“The last three or four years, it’s been getting a little more frightening,” Earnhart said.

Natasha Rolon sounded a little less fearful.

The 28-year-old mother of four, sat on her porch further up the street and suggested the neighborhood isn’t much worse that many others. She said she does not worry about crime.

“I don’t have any problems here,” she said.

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