Johnson County enacts new law to curb wild underage parties

Gunfire at a golf course clubhouse during a recent party led to a new law in Johnson County.

Police are noticing a disturbing trend involving underage drinking that are moving into the country.

A party last month near Center Grove turned terrifying.

"Fifteen rounds fired, either into vehicles or a business, several vehicles hit," said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.

Cox says glass or a bullet grazed a young woman's head.

"That doesn't happen every night in Johnson County and we want to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

The troublesome under-21 parties were mostly happening in the city. But Cox says with cities cracking down, the parties are moving to more rural areas, like Johnson County.

To stop those wild parties, the sheriff backed a new law that just went into effect in the county.

It says groups renting a place like Walnut Creek Golf Course, where the gunfire erupted, must now get a county permit first. To qualify, they must have a million dollars in insurance, no criminal records, be over 21, and no hosting minors if alcohol is served.

The cost of one party permit is $210, an annual permit is $335.

There is still a bullet hole in the golf club's window. Cox tells Eyewitness News he warned the club before the shooting that the group that wanted to rent their facility had problems with Indianapolis police.

But he says the golf club rented it to the group anyway - twice. The gunfire happened on the second rental.

We asked the club about the new rules Friday. Did Jim Hague, working at the office, think it was a good idea to have clear guidelines.?

"I'm not sure that it will make a difference but it's fine, it's great," Hague said.

Residents seemed pleased.

"It should help. If I were doing something like that I would definitely have my insurance," said Teresa Pope.

"I think it will curb it a little bit, but people will go off and stage parties anyway," says Ken Steinkamp.

The rules do not apply to established not-for-profits such as the VFW. They are targeting the so-called "under-21 parties."

It also doesn't apply to gatherings like family parties, where the guests are invited and where there are no fees or cover charges.

The law has already taken effect.