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'It could happen anywhere'; Musician performing at Lawrenceburg casino recounts armed robbery

Jimi Orwig was setting up his keyboard when he saw people ducking for cover
Large police presence at Hollywood Casino at Lawrenceburg
Posted at 12:04 AM, Mar 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-05 12:41:09-05

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — A man who found himself front and center for an armed robbery at a Lawrenceburg casino is sharing his account of what happened Saturday.

Jimi Orwig was setting up his keyboard to perform at the Hollywood Casino with his band, The Menus.

“I was standing on the stage and I was programming my keyboard,” he said.

Orwig had headphones on and couldn’t hear anything in the casino. He was working alongside a sound engineer when he saw the engineer “go down.”

“I only saw people go down trying to take cover,” he said.

Orwig told WCPO that his first thought was that someone had gotten sick.

Indiana State Police confirmed that a large police presence at the casino Saturday was prompted by an armed robbery. Daniel Birdseye was formally charged on March 5 with kidnapping, robbery armed with a deadly weapon, criminal confinement, intimidation and battery on public safety officials, according to Dearborn County Prosecutor Lynn Deddens.

Deddens said no shots were fired during Birdseye's attempted robbery, but he held multiple casino employees at gunpoint during the course of events.

"This was a very dangerous and potentially deadly situation," said Deddens. "Birseye brandished and pointed the gun at several Hollywood employees and threatened to shoot at least one of them. He held a man at gunpoint in order to help in his attempted escape."

Moments after people began taking cover, Orwig said staff began rushing people to the back of the stage. Orwig said there were probably 100 or more people back there with him.

He didn’t see the suspect inside the room.

Orwig said he wasn’t scared because staff moved everyone so quickly.

“It was just a question of what happened,” he said.

Two witnesses who were leaving the casino told us that they heard a bunch of people screaming "there's a gun." Video from inside the casino showed fire alarms going off on the casino floor, with some people saying they were evacuated to the garage.

Chris Simon, a witness inside the casino, said he saw Birdseye grab a person to use as a hostage.

"One guy brandished a gun at the cage, got whatever he was gonna get, took off and I guess some security approached him and he grabbed somebody-- he grabbed a hostage -- and started running down the hallway," Simon said. "People were literally laying on the floors ducking under tables. It was pretty chaotic there for a couple of minutes."

Orwig said some of the people sheltering with him were panicked, especially because of the loud sirens. He said staff eventually moved his group outside.

The group was only there for a few minutes before security determined the suspect may have left the facility too.

Orwig said he was shocked, but the incident is not holding him back from performing at the casino again. He said his band has booked another show at the venue this summer.

“It could happen anywhere and so we just keep an eye out,” he said.