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Suspect arrested in Fort Wayne smoke shop killing

Surveillance photos were critical in bringing tips from public

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 6:56 pm

A series of surveillance photos captured during a robbery that turned into a killing may have seemed grainy and indistinct, but they drew a net tighter and tighter around a man now charged in that killing.

Fort Wayne Police announced Wednesday morning the arrest of Jamel Coleman, 22, of Gary, in connection with the shooting death April 7 of Antonio Lopez Nino, 44, the owner of Smoke House Tobacco Outlet, 2217 Lafayette St. Coleman is charged with murder, felony murder and armed robbery causing death.

Judging from what authorities say about the case and court documents, that arrest would not have happened without members of the public – in some cases, members of Coleman's family – offering tips and cooperating with police.

The tips began coming in the day after the killing, when a series of surveillance photos was published in The News-Sentinel and other media outlets in Fort Wayne.

Two days after the killing, detectives had Coleman's name and were interviewing people close to him to see whether he fit as a possible suspect. He had not been known to police as a violent criminal before the investigation; in fact, the only charges filed against him in Allen County had been misdemeanors – criminal trespass and criminal mischief.

As their investigation continued, police learned that he had left Fort Wayne and was headed for Indianapolis. Police caught a critical break Tuesday, said Greg Lewis, executive director of Crime Stoppers, with a tip that Coleman was on a bus from Muncie to Indianapolis. Police here arranged to have him detained in Indianapolis when he arrived Tuesday. Police here heard back at 2:58 p.m. that Coleman had been taken into custody at the bus station, only 14 minutes after Crime Stoppers got the tip on Coleman's location, according to court documents.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday, a pair of detectives from the Fort Wayne Police Department began interviewing Coleman in Indianapolis. According to court documents, Coleman began detailing the crime after one of the detectives let Coleman talk to his wife on a phone.

Coleman allegedly told detectives that he went to the smoke shop intending to pull a “quick and fast” robbery of Nino himself, not the shop. The easy robbery turned fatally complicated, according to detectives' report of Coleman's account, when Nino had a gun of his own and began tussling with Coleman.

From the account in the probable-cause affidavit, the killing was an execution, not gunfire during a fight. Police said that Coleman said he got Nino on the floor and tied him up with duct tape from the store.

“He stated that he then got Antonio Nino's gun and shot Antonio with his own gun because Jamel's gun was broken and did not work,” according to the court filing.