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Wrong place, wrong time: The murder of Tre Spencer

Former star Pike HS athlete killed in Broad Ripple
Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 01, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- Police followed the trail of Tre Spencer's blood to a half dozen spent bullet casings lying in the grease pits of a Broad Ripple alley.

Minutes earlier, the 23-year-old had staggered out of the alley onto Guilford Avenue, right in front of the Casba nightclub. He told off-duty IMPD Officer Jeffrey Goodin he'd been shot. Goodwin was working private security for the Casba. He radioed for an ambulance.

Then another shooting victim ran into the street.

That man, 22-year-old Shaquille Potts, would survive. Tre Spencer would die less than an hour later at Methodist Hospital.

Spencer's family mourned the sudden death of the former Pike High School wrestling star, who they described as a man of love built on family.

"They shot an innocent person that had nothing to do with anything," his grandmother Martine Spencer said.

Now, nearly a month later and with a suspect behind bars on murder charges, the question behind Martine Spencer's words remains unanswered: Why, out of everyone involved that night, was it Tre Spencer who wound up dead?

A fight over a girl

One thing isn't disputed: The fight that ended in Tre Spencer's death began nearly eight months earlier with another altercation in February. That fight – between men identified as "A.M." and "Derek" in court documents – allegedly broke out over a girl. It ended with Derek in the hospital.

Tre Spencer, 23 (photo provided by family)

It also, at least as far as court documents make clear, didn't include Tre Spencer.

Sometime between the night of October 3 and the morning of October 4, a group of people including A.M. ran into another group of people including Derek at the Casba. The two groups initially avoided each other, but eventually, as closing time neared, collided. Discussion of the altercation in February came up.

According to witness statements, A.M. and Derek agreed to settle their differences with a fistfight in the nearby alley.

Tre Spencer stood nearby and watched the conversation unfold. As the groups separated, A.M. told Spencer what was going on, and Spencer ran into a friend, Shaquille Potts, who agreed to assist as "backup" in the fight.

A meeting in an alley

Witness statements describe the moment the two groups converged in the alley just west of the Casba:

"It will be one-on-one, or shots will be fired," someone yells out.

The group of A.M., Tre Spencer, Shaquille Potts and two others approach Derek, someone they believed was Derek's brother (later identified as his friend, Marcus Barnes), Derek's girlfriend and her brother. One of the men holds a rifle with a pistol grip tilted back on his shoulder. Another holds a pistol.

"It will be one-on-one, or shots will be fired," someone yells out.

A.M. and Derek square off. They raise their fists and begin circling each other.

Then, a commotion. Shots are fired. Both groups scatter.

After that, accounts diverge:

  • A.M. later tells police he saw Barnes raise his pistol at Tre Spencer and ask, "Were you the one that jumped my brother?" before opening fire.
  • Potts tells police he heard Barnes yell "you jumped him before" at Tre Spencer. He says Barnes then began shooting – hitting Spencer and, he believes, him.
  • Another witness, identified as Derek's cousin "M.M.," tells police he saw Marcus Barnes shooting his pistol.
  • When police find Barnes weeks later, he tells them he had a pistol but never used it. He ran like everyone else, he says.

Tre Spencer and Shaquille Potts are both hit by bullets. One of them travels through Spencer's arm and into his chest, where it strikes a lung and his heart.

On October 25, U.S. Marshals located Marcus Barnes and learned he rents two apartments. Search warrants for both were subsequently obtained, which turned up ammunition, a shotgun and a gun box for a .40-caliber pistol with a receipt listing Marcus Barnes as the purchaser.

Marcus Barnes

In an interview, Barnes told police he had his pistol with him the night of the fight, but didn't use it. He said he instead ran when shots were fired. He also said his brother currently had that pistol in his trunk.

Investigators eventually take possession of the pistol.

Police took Marcus Barnes into custody the same day on a preliminary charge of murder in connection with the death of Tre Spencer. Marion County prosecutors filed formal charges of murder and battery by means of a deadly weapon on October 28.

Tre Spencer was buried five days after his death at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Shaquille Potts was taken to Methodist Hospital in serious condition following the shooting. He was expected to recover.

READ MORE | Family mourns man killed in Broad Ripple shooting | Arrest made in connection with Broad Ripple murder | Despite arrest in fatal Broad Ripple shooting, most homicides still unsolved

Jordan Fischer is the Senior Digital Reporter for RTV6. He writes about crime & the underlying issues that cause it. Follow his reporting on Twitter at @Jordan_RTV6 or on Facebook.