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‘Shaken by violence’: Muncie gives update on weekend shooting that killed one, injured 18

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Community, Crime, Government, Local News
Muncie Police Chief Nathan Sloan says no one is in custody from the weekend shooting, but that there is no ongoing threat. (Stephanie Wiechmann / IPR News)

Muncie officials say they believe a weekend shooting was not the act of one person targeting a specific group.  Muncie police are still investigating the large party that turned violent.

“On Sunday morning, our community was shaken to the core by violence,” said Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour, struggling to get the words out at a Monday press conference.  He and the Muncie Police Department said one person was killed and 18 were wounded at an early Sunday morning shooting – 17 by gunshots and one person hit by a car.

Muncie Police Chief Nathan Sloan said the man killed, 30-year-old Joseph Bonner, attended the party.  But Sloan said he could not release details on who or even how many people were shooting, if anyone was specifically targeted, or how many guns or shell casings were recovered.

When asked to describe the event in his own words, Sloan said, “I can tell the public that it was a party that was out of control, where shots were fired, and at least, that we know of now, 18 people were injured, and we don’t want any more of it.”

Hundreds of people – with estimates of between 500 to 1,000 – were at the Sunday night gathering.  Police say some of the gunshot victims were teenagers.  Because of the number of people, Muncie police asked for help and said 8-10 agencies responded.

Sloan said first responders were “rushing people to the hospital in our police cars, because we didn’t have time to wait.”

Muncie police have said no one is in custody right now, but repeatedly say there is no ongoing danger to Muncie.  Sloan said the department is keeping details to themselves to protect the integrity of its investigation.

As of Monday mid-day, Deputy Chief Melissa Criswell said five people were still admitted to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital being treated for injuries.  Of the four that had been transferred to hospitals in the Indianapolis area, one was in critical condition, two were in stable condition, and one had been released.

Criswell said many of those at the party crowded into the ER and parking lot of the hospital.  She said some had to be kept from fighting with others.  Sloan said there is no supporting evidence to point to the violence being gang-related.

Officials say the owner of the building had gotten a city noise ordinance exemption, but only for a gathering of 75 people until 9:00 pm.  Gunshots were called into Delaware County dispatch just after 1:00 am.

Sloan said Muncie police were trying to contact the property owner to get the party shut down when shots were fired.  When asked if the property owner should be charged with a crime, Sloan replied, “To me, I think there’s a responsibility.”

As previously reported, the Muncie Homecoming Festival was celebrating events this weekend to bring Muncie natives back home to celebrate the area.  Organizers say the party where the shooting happened was not an official event for Muncie Homecoming.  In a statement, the group condemns “acts of violence” and says it supports the work to make Muncie “a peaceful and loving community.”

The city of Muncie is coordinating access to mental health help for victims and the community.  Ridenour says he’s starting a multi-agency task force to address issues of large, out-of-control parties and gun violence in the college town.

Read More: How Indiana’s permitless carry law could impact gun violence

Two public community prayer vigils are being held this week. The first is Monday at 6:00 pm at the corner of Hackley and Willard.  Then on Tuesday, a vigil is being held at Berea Church at 1201 Wheeling Ave. at 7:00 pm.

The Muncie Police Department is asking any party attendees, witnesses, or those with social media or doorbell camera footage to come forward with information.  They can contact the detective division with information at 765-747-4867.