MOTHER: ‘There needs to be some level of accountability’

A mom is speaking out after her son was killed in a police-involved shooting near Poplar Street
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 10:02 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A Fort Wayne mother is grieving the loss of her son after he was killed during a police-action shooting, Wednesday afternoon.

Brooklyn Beckler says she just returned to her home on Poplar Street shortly before shots were fired. She says she heard three gunshots and when she ran outside she found her son, 18-Year-Old Wyatt Beckler lying in the middle of Hoagland Avenue near Butler Street.

“What [police] did was wrong,” Beckler said tearfully. “And they wouldn’t let me go to my son when I was telling them I could help him.”

Police have identified the officer who fired the weapon as Andrew Fry. He is an 8-year veteran of the police department. He is on administrative leave an the investigation continues.

Fort Wayne police say they were first called to the 400 Block of Poplar Street on reports of a man threatening a woman with a gun. Once they arrived on the scene, police say officers saw man who matched a description of a suspect given to 911 operators.

Beckler believes her son is the one who called 911 because he was having a mental health crisis.

“I don’t know where [reports of] the woman came from,” she said. “I don’t know where [reports of] the gun came from. I don’t know what he told them when he called.”

She says Fort Wayne police have been called to their home multiple times because her son would threaten to hurt himself. About a year ago he was diagnosed with a serious mental health disorder, she says.

A man who witnessed the shooting told 21 Alive that what police say is true. The witness says he refused commands to stop walking and at one point put his hands behind his back before being shot.

Our Digging Deeper team reached out to Fort Wayne police Thursday, asking if the man showed a gun before police shot him.

Jeremy Webb, Spokesman for the Fort Wayne Police Department, sent us the following statement:

“This investigation is ongoing, fluid, and at the very preliminary stages. As the investigation progresses and when appropriate, we will pass the facts along.”

Beckler’s mother says her son was not armed.

“He did not have a weapon,” she said. “I know that 100 percent. My son was not armed.”

Our team contacted Webb a second time after Beckler’s mother’s claims that he was unarmed.

Webb responded, “More information will be forth coming as the facts come out.”

Beckler says she was trying to get him checked into a behavioral institution just days before the shooting, but her son refused. She hopes her son’s killing will shed light on the importance of officers being well-equipped to deal with people in mental health crisis.

“There needs to be some level of accountability,” she says. “Tasors... or something besides lethal force.”

The coroner’s office said on Thursday that Wyatt Beckler died from gunshot wounds. His manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Beckler’s death marks the 22nd homicide for Allen County so far this year.