MUNCIE — The City of Muncie Police Department is currently reviewing an active shooter situation that happened on August 11 at the Baymont Inn.
WRTV Investigates obtained body camera footage from Ball State University through a records request.
The footage revealed confusion and frustration at the scene after a Muncie Police officer fired his gun, apparently without warning Ball State officers who were also responding.
On August 11, Ball State University Police and Muncie Police officers responded to a report of an active shooter at the Baymont Hotel.
Ball State sent out an emergency alert telling people to avoid the area.
According to Muncie Police, at the time of the call, hotel staff had barricaded themselves in an upstairs room and were waiting for first responders.
“Suspect is wearing all camouflage, supposed to have a long gun,” an officer said on the radio.
“He fired eight shots and they think he is armed with an AR-15,” a dispatcher said on the radio.
Both Ball State and Muncie Police officers arrived on scene, and at least five officers were inside the hotel looking for the suspect, according to radio traffic.
Officers set up a perimeter and began looking for the active shooter inside and outside the building.
But officers could not find an active shooter inside or outside the hotel.
Minutes after arriving on scene, you can hear gunshots on the body camera recordings.
"Shots fired, shots fired,” an officer shouted. “We have shots fired!”
Police officers at the scene initially did not know who fired the gun.
Ball State University provided half a dozen body camera clips to WRTV Investigates, however, it’s unclear from the footage the names of the officers speaking on the recordings.
“I think that was one of our officers who fired that round. I can’t tell what’s going on,” one officer said.
“Someone called shots fired, but I’m not sure if it was a discharge or if they were breaking a window on the other side of the building,” another officer said.
“That was MPD,” another officer responded.
“Do we need an ambulance?” a dispatcher asked.
“No, it’s MPD busting a window out,” an officer responded.
It’s not clear from the body camera footage who fired the gunshots or why, but WRTV Investigates visited the Baymont Inn on September 9 and saw what appeared to be bullet holes in the side door.
In a response to WRTV on April 6, 2023, Muncie Police Chief Nathan Sloan said the door pictured above was not the door that that was breached, and the holes shown had nothing to do with the Muncie Police Department.
Ball State Officers appeared frustrated at the communication on scene regarding the shots fired.
“That freaked me out when he blew the door, man,” one officer said.
“Yeah, you could have told us!” another officer responded.
“How about you at least say, ‘I’m making entry man?’” another Ball State officer asked.
The Ball State Officers continued to talk to each other and question why they were not warned.
“They could have announced they were going to do the flash bang, because I was up there,” said a Ball State Police officer. “I thought shit just turned real. I thought it was one of our guys who shot off and I said, ‘who is getting suspended now?’”
According to conversations captured by body cameras, Ball State and Muncie Police did not appear to be on the same radio channel, at least not initially.
“I hadn’t switched over to MPD yet,” an officer said.
“He’s been on their channel, I think,” said another officer.
WRTV Investigates showed the raw footage to Ian Adams, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina.
"Interagency communication is a top priority when you're having these responses,” said Adams. “Based on what the officers are saying on the body cameras, it sounds like they were taken by surprise and that may be what is driving the confusion."
Adams is also a former police officer who studies police tactics.
“In an ideal scenario, we want to make sure all these agencies are able to quickly stream into a single channel where all that information can go out," said Adams. “Most of the time, what’s supposed to occur is that when you have a multi-agency critical incident, there’s supposed to be a broadcast channel that everybody can go to so that it cuts down on miscommunication and assists who is in operational command to deploy those resources safely and effectively.”
Muncie’s police report of the incident does not say anything about shots fired.
But the police report did reveal the shooting “suspect” was actually a worker with a caulking gun who was fixing a window.
"These are the most critical incidents officers can respond to. In that moment they don't know that it's going to turn out to be a false alarm,” said Adams. “You're seeing very human reactions. These are scary. It's scary to go towards gunfire."
Adams noted the officers appeared to do a good job responding quickly, setting up a perimeter and seeking clarification about the shots fired.
“We can’t really expect in a dynamic situation like this for there to be perfect communication,” said Adams. “What we are hoping to see from a police tactics standpoint is that officers are aware of their surroundings, they’re picking up there was gunfire and they’re seeking for clarification on where that’s coming from.”
Ball State University referred all questions about the incident to Muncie Police.
Muncie Police tells WRTV they thoroughly searched the hotel and determined there was no threat.
The Muncie Police Department is currently reviewing the incident and did not agree to do an on-camera interview with WRTV.
Police Chief Nathan Sloan provided a written statement to WRTV.
“We know the majority of lives lost in these situations occur in the first few minutes, and seconds matter,” read the statement. “As such, the Muncie Police Department is trained to respond, locate, isolate, and intervene in any active or potentially active situation as quickly as possible. This training includes special tools, tactics, and unconventional methods, which are designed to make the officers’ response more efficient in order to save lives and rescue victims.”
Chief Sloan said these situations are “often chaotic and dynamic,” especially when multiple agencies are responding.
“In this particular incident, officers received a very specific description of a rifle wielding suspect, who had fired shots, and then entered the hotel,” read the chief’s statement. “At the time of the call, hotel staff had barricaded themselves in a room upstairs and were waiting for first responders to arrive.”
Officers determined there was no threat.
“An investigation of all aspects of this incident, and others like it, is standard procedure to ensure department personnel are providing the most effective response to prevent another mass shooting tragedy and to adjust standard policies as needed,” read the statement.
The investigation is still underway, but Chief Sloan has determined his officers followed protocol.
“All MPD procedures were followed during and after the situation that took place on 8-11-22,” read the statement.
The Muncie Police Department has not yet released the identity of the officer who fired the shots.
It’s unclear if anyone was disciplined over the incident.
WRTV Investigates has filed a records request for the city's active shooter policy, as well as the firearm discharge form.
WRTV also reached out to the Delaware County Emergency Communications Center regarding the incident.
“The 911 Center typically doesn’t assign incident channels for police,” said Fred Cummings, 911 Director for the Delaware County Emergency Communications Center, in an email to WRTV. “For Muncie PD, which is the jurisdiction where this took place, we would use their main channel unless the incident commander designated otherwise. I don’t know what Ball State’s policies are as far as their dispatch center. It would be up to the two police departments to coordinate this.”
WRTV Investigates sent a list of questions to the City of Muncie on September 28, including questions about the radio channel, miscommunication at the scene and what is being done to address this for future active shooter incidents.
We are still waiting on a response from the city.
We stopped by the Baymont Inn and also left a business card, but no one has gotten back with us.