During the trial, the shooter, believed to be Brown, is under surveillance

By | March 8, 2024

Mar. 7—GOSHEN — The state continued its main case in a jury trial regarding the shooting at the Elkhart Eagles Club 395, 225 W. Marion St., Elkhart on April 17, 2022.

Dentrell Brown, 28, is charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting. Police said in the affidavit that a fight broke out and the entertainment director tried to remove the man from the situation, but Brown instead ran out the exit door and returned moments later with a gun. He allegedly fired it several times and then left.

The affidavit said a witness told police she left the building after a large fight broke out in the event hall. Saadallah Altameemi and Lamondrew Townsend were shot several times.

Medical staff told the jury that while Altameemi and Townsend’s injuries could have been fatal, steps were taken to prevent a high risk, although both men were placed in intensive care and required extensive surgery and physiotherapy after the shooting .

Corporal Tyler Cruse of the Elkhart City Police Department said when he first arrived at the club, he immediately found a woman hiding or trying to get a gun in her car, but the gun had not been recently fired.

During the investigation Thursday, Elkhart City Police Department homicide detective D’Andre Biller told the jury that the woman’s gun was not taken for analysis, but they did follow up with her and that the suspect was a black man.

Defense attorney Andrew Baldwin also questioned why Cruze did not order the other hundreds of people in the area where the shots came from to stop for him for a search.

“You can’t just search someone because he or she is in that area,” Biller said. ‘You must have some reason. Just like her, she dived into a car and was looking for something.”

During the trial Wednesday, Cruze confirmed to police that he had asked other people to stop, but many did not. Baldwin wondered if some of those people might have been involved in the shooting.

“I wasn’t there, so I have no doubt that one of my officers when I wasn’t on scene, I don’t know what kind of chaos was going on,” Biller said.

Biller also told the jury that she contacted several people, but they refused to testify. For many people, her department couldn’t find subpoenas, and some even had to pick them up for interviews during investigations. Biller said because Brown had fled the state, her department had to call for help from the U.S. Marshalls.

Baldwin also questioned her about what he called “the missing eight minutes of video.” Biller said she didn’t feel the video, which came from Kao’s in Elkhart, was problematic in proving the case.

Later in the court proceedings on Thursday, the lawyers agreed to a recorded agreement that allowed the footage regardless of whether minutes of the video were missing. The agreement stated that the images had not been altered in any way by the department.

Elkhart County Criminal Intelligence Analyst Jeremy Stout claimed that surveillance footage indicated that as people rushed to leave the club, a possible gunman also appeared to leave the building and raised his arms to fire a single shot toward Altameemi who ran out of the building and stumbled. , then the possible shooter ran north, while most people ran south toward the cars in the parking lot.

When Cruze arrived on the scene, Stout said the video shows the possible shooter changing direction and moving south, away from Cruze and his vehicle. The person was identified as Dentrell Brown, based on a gender reveal party Brown attended earlier in the day.

The man identified as Brown got into a white vehicle that appeared in the alley and took off.

At the scene, witnesses inside Cruze said “South Bend people” were causing the problems.

Kenya Barhams, who worked for the Eagles at the time, said the first fights took place right in front of the bar she was behind. Barham said Brown lay on the ground and was attacked by several men. Some witnesses said Altameemi or Townsend were involved in the fight, but no witnesses indicated all three were involved. Security guards and other personnel broke up the fight, but then another fight started almost immediately.

Just a few minutes later, when she heard shots from near the pool tables, Barham said she hid behind the bar with customers. Someone rushed to help a man who had been shot in an attempt to keep him conscious, and she was asked to get towels for the victim.

Barham also noted that she heard the security guard say, “You don’t have to do this,” before he was shot, and Brown went back into the building.

Altameemi testified Tuesday that he went to the club with a group of friends. He had broken up one of the fights at the club, a fight in which Brown was involved, although he did not know him or anyone else involved at the time.

During cross-examination, Baldwin gave him a transcript of Altameemi’s police interrogation days after the shooting, in which he claimed he had fought Brown. Altameemi said he did not remember fighting him, but acknowledged from the transcript that he did.

Altameemi further explained that after some of the people involved in the fight left, he saw one of the guards get shot and started running away.

However, Townsend told the jury Tuesday that he had no knowledge that a fight had taken place at all, but he did know there was a commotion. He was quite drunk and said he remembered waking up in the hospital. Both men required surgeries.

Christopher Allen was reportedly shot at gunpoint, but said during the trial Wednesday that he couldn’t remember much of the rest of the day, including the gender reveal party he and Brown reportedly attended. Instead, the first time he remembered seeing Brown was at the club that night.

Allen said he went to the homicide unit to talk about the shooting, but that he did not actually see the shooting occur. He said that as far as he knew, he and Brown were not involved in a fight at the club and left because security was escorting people out.

“He never went back in there,” Allen said during the trial, claiming Brown was standing next to him when he heard the gunshots.

Prosecutor Kathleen Claeys spent much of Allen’s time in court trying to corroborate information Allen provided to investigators early on. Allen told counsel that he was under the influence of ecstasy, PCP and alcohol during the incident and that this could explain his memory loss.

Altameemi and Townsend have also filed lawsuits against the Eagles Lodge over the fight and what they see as inadequate protection of the club’s patrons. In the lawsuit, the two men allege that Brown (listed as unidentified in the lawsuit) argued with other patrons, left and returned to the club with a firearm, and began shooting.

The complaints in the lawsuits are mainly about the fact that the club did not allow guns, which prevented them from protecting themselves within the establishment, and as a result he was shot multiple times.

“If the location or nature of the business is such that the business owner/operator can reasonably anticipate negligent, unlawful or criminal conduct by third parties, either generally or at a particular time, the business owner/operator is subject to a duty to to take precautions against it and provide reasonably adequate protection,” Altameemi’s lawsuit alleges, citing damages including series of personal injuries, pain, suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience, both past and future; loss of income and earning capacity in the future, permanent physical disabilities, medical costs and loss of enjoyment of life.

The Trustees of Elkhart Aerie 395 Fraternal Order Of Eagles denied all allegations in response in the Townsend case, which was filed in August, and affirmed Townsend’s request for a jury trial. In Altameemi’s case, which was filed in early February, the club has not yet filed a response in Elkhart County Superior Court 2.

However, Brown faces two Level 1 murder charges, as well as a Level 6 felony charge of criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting incident, which reportedly sent two men to Elkhart General Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

Ray Wolfenbarger, South Bend City Police firearms and tools investigator, told the jury Thursday that he believed all the shell casings and bullets found came from the same gun.

The trial continues on Friday.

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at dani.messick@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2065.

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