Avon Y under fire for emergency drill

Officials at the Avon Y conducted an emergency drill, but didn't notify police.

A local YMCA branch is facing criticism for a security drill that terrified some patrons and brought law enforcement rushing to the scene for what they thought was an armed and masked intruder.

"The 911 calls came in from citizens that were actually there working out," explained Avon Police Detective Brian Nugent.

According to a police report, no fewer than nine officers from Avon, Brownsburg, and the Hendricks County Sheriff's Department rushed to the scene for calls of a masked intruder, possibly with a gun, running through the building.

When officers got to the Y at 301 Satori Parkway in Avon, Nugent said, "They were alarmed to encounter a handful of people who were very frightened about what they had seen."

As it turns out, what they witnessed wasn't real at all. According to a police report, the masked suspect wasn't really a suspect, but an employee of the Y.

A spokesperson for the Y says what happened was all part of a monthly safety drill, which Ys are required to do. But there was some kind of communication breakdown and not everyone who was supposed to be in the know about what was going on was informed.

According to the police report, the Y's director never let police or 911 know about the drill, so employees would have a realistic reaction to what was going on in front of them.

"That's kind of a wild mistake, really," said Mary Whaley when she heard about what happened.

Whaley's granddaughter comes to the Y in Avon for swimming lessons. She said with concealed carry laws, the Y took a chance no visitors there would step in with possibly tragic consequences.

"I was just at Kroger's and I seen a man with a gun in his back pocket, so that could happen very easily and that would be terrible. Terrible," said Whaley.

Add police to the mix, said Y patron Jennifer Gulesian, "It could have been, you know, a shootout."

"The liability is what concerns us the most about what happened," added Nugent.

Police said not only could it have been dangerous at the scene, but officers rushing there could have been involved in a crash.

"There was certainly a period of time there, where we were responding as though it were a legitimate complaint," said Nugent.

Now that's its over, police said if area businesses or organizations want to stage an emergency, they have to invite law enforcement to pretend with them, so they can avoid a possible real life tragedy.

Avon Police said the Hendricks County Prosecutor's office is aware of the case and will decide if any charges should be filed.