Formal murder and other charges filed against Fort Wayne man for Thanksgiving Day fatal shooting

Rivera (Courtesy of the Allen County Sheriff's Department)

The Allen County Prosecutor’s office filed formal charges Thursday of two counts of murder and one count each of robbery resulting in bodily injury and use of a firearm in commission of an offense against Victor M . Rivera, 21, for the Thanksgiving Day shooting death of a Meijer gas station employee.

Rivera had been charged preliminarily in Allen Superior Court. Those charges will be dismissed and the formal charges will go forward, also in Allen Superior Court.

Rivera, of the 5800 block of Kelso Lane, is charged with shooting Meijer employee Jacob Walerko in the head just after 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

A probable cause affidavit filed with the formal charges alleges:

• Store video surveillance footage shows Rivera pull out what appears to have been a sawed-off shotgun and shoot Walerko in the head. Walerko was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.

• The video footage then shows Rivera jumping over the checkout counter and took a carton of Newport cigarettes before fleeing across the store parking lot.

Rivera was arrested without incident Friday in a north-side trailer park off Washington Center Road after police had received tips from the public, the Fort Wayne Police Department reported.

Rivera’s mother allegedly also identified him as her son when asked if she had seen photos of the suspect, the probable cause affidavit said.

The tips from the public included one from a customer at the Meijer gas station on Nov. 6 who remembered Rivera being there and yelling at and threatening employees by saying he was coming back to get even because he didn’t get a job there.

Rivera had been released from custody in April after serving six months of a 2½-year prison sentence related to the neglect of an infant who suffered a skull fracture.