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Fort Wayne police arrest man for 2016 cold case murder

Michael Harding II. (Photo Provided/Allen County Sheriff's Department)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) — On Sunday, officers with the Fort Wayne Police Department arrested a man involved in a 2016 homicide, the police department announced Monday.

Michael Harding II, 24, was charged in May 2016 with one count of felony murder, one count of aggravated battery, one count of attempted robbery, and one count of intimidation with a deadly weapon.

He was charged in connection with the May 2016 homicide in the 9100 block of Brickshire Parkway.

Court documents obtained Monday afternoon say around 11:16 p.m. May 18, 2016, officers responded to an undisclosed address in Fort Wayne on report of a shooting. When officers arrived, they located two people with gunshot wounds and a witness who was parked in a car close by.

Both people were taken to the Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne. One person, identified as Dontay White, passed away during an emergency surgery. The second person, a male, was reported as being in serious condition but was alert.

According to court documents, investigators later spoke with the male, who told officers that he and the witness, his girlfriend, picked up White from his place of work.

White said to the male and his girlfriend that he wanted to meet up with someone, later identified as Harding, who was 18 at the time.

The three of them met with Harding in the general area of a gas station. Harding got in the vehicle’s back seat with White.

The male told investigators that during conversation, he heard Harding ask White to give him something. The male eventually turned around and found Harding pointing a gun toward the front seat. The male tried to take the gun from Harding and was shot in the process.

The male told investigators also saw Harding exit his car and run away, court papers say.

Later, the male’s girlfriend spoke with detectives, who said the male and White were going to meet with Harding to sell Xanax. Court papers say the girlfriend told police that White knew Harding from high school.

Court documents say that she told officers that when the male asked Harding if he had money for the Xanax, he didn’t respond. Harding then tried to take a bag of Xanax from White, and pulled out a gun.

She told investigators that there were gunshots during the struggle, and White and the male were shot. She also told officers that when Harding exited the vehicle, she exited, too. Harding then pointed a gun at her and told her to “get back in the vehicle or he would kill her also.”

On May 19, 2016, the male and girlfriend were shown photos of potential suspects, including a photo of Harding. Neither of them were able to make positive identification of Harding, court documents say.

The next day on May 20, detectives spoke with the male again, who confirmed that White intended to sell drugs to Harding and asked if the male had any Xanax he’d be willing to sell. Court papers say the male told investigators that he and White agreed to sell to the deal.

Officers obtained text records between White and Harding, which detailed the two agreeing to the deal and establishing a place to meet. Documents say that White used expletives to warn Harding not to try to steal from him or rob him short.

After speaking with several witnesses, investigators learned from coworkers at White’s place of work that White intended to sell drugs to “a guy named Mike” from the high school.

Additionally, detectives learned that around 11:27 p.m. May 19, an officer had performed a traffic stop on a 2008 Silver Dodge, who was driving 81 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Court papers say the driver of the vehicle was visibly shaking and crying, and told the officer she was speeding because her mother had called and told her her brother, Harding, was in trouble and she needed to take him home.

Over a year later, on October 4, 2017, three additional witnesses met with investigators to say they had been discussing White’s murder.

According to court documents, one witness showed investigators screenshots and a screen recording of a video conversation with Harding. In the video, Harding confesses to going to buy drugs from White, but was frustrated with how long it took for them to meet up.

In the video, Harding says when White finally arrived, he “jumped on him, like he was trying to rob him.” He then admitted to the witness that he shot White in self-defense.

On October 10, investigators spoke with the male and his girlfriend again and showed them more photos of additional suspects, including a photo of Harding. This time, they were both able to positively identify Harding, court documents say.

Years later, on March 3, 2023, investigators spoke with an informant, who previously lived in the same apartment complex as Harding. The informant said they developed a long-term friendship with Harding, and was able to talk to Harding about the homicide.

Court papers say that the informant told investigators that Harding eventually admitted the shooting happened over a drug deal gone wrong, and that shooting White was in self-defense.

Police say that before 6:30 p.m. Sunday, officers conducted a traffic stop on Harding at the intersection of Lima Road and West Coliseum Boulevard on the north side of Fort Wayne.

Harding was taken into custody without incident, and was being held in the Allen County jail.

Harding appeared in court on Monday afternoon. Harding’s hearing was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

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