Investigation proves women's golf shooting an accident, grants relief to those involved

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Four members of the women’s golf team were on the 13th hole at Deer Creek Golf Course in Clayton, Indiana, when a number of bullets were shot into the fairway on Sunday, Sept. 27.

While the other half of the team was playing in a tournament, senior Brooke Hasler, sophomore Emily Galloway, first-year Megan Sink and senior Kenzlie Westerfield were playing in a practice round.

The bullets came out of a wooded area, and the women did not know who was shooting or where it was coming from. Hasler said the girls tried to find cover behind trees.

Although none of the players were injured, Hasler said they were almost hit, with one bullet going right by her head.

Another player, Galloway, saw two of the bullets.

“We hear gunshots there all the time—there’s a firing range—so it wasn’t like anything new that we heard,” Galloway said. “But then they came flying over into the fairway, and they hit the ground”.  

The girls contacted their coach, Vince Lazar.

After an investigation, the Hendricks County Police Department could not identify a culprit, and the issue was left unsolved.

“The sheriff went to see the owners of the properties just to the east of the course,” Athletic Director Stevie Baker-Watson said in a phone interview last night.

When the first day of investigation did not yield a result, the sheriff returned to the homes along the course the next day, speaking to two individuals--the second had answers.

Three days after the incident, Hasler received a call from the deputy sheriff, who informed of her of what the police had found upon further investigation.

An 83-year-old man living by the golf course had been in his backyard trying to teach his grandson how to shoot a semi-automatic rifle.

The man believed he was shooting into a nearby ravine or bank; he was either mistaken, or his bullets ricocheted in the fairway.

“[He] felt terrible and wanted to talk on the phone with me and apologize,” Hasler said.

Baker-Watson said to her knowledge the case is now closed and no charges are pending at this time.

As the incident did not occur in Putnam County, it was under the jurisdiction of the Hendricks County Police. Putnam County law enforcement had no authority over them to push them to continue investigating. Hasler’s parents pushed for the investigation to continue.

“We got the Hendricks County commissioner involved who told the deputy that he needed to continue to investigate rather than just erring by the fact that no one was hurt,” Hasler said. “Instead we wanted to make sure that we figured out who it was or at least address the problem so that we could make sure it didn’t happen again.”

The results of the investigation, proving the shooting to be an accident, was a relief to the four girls and has helped them to heal after the fear and trauma they experienced.

“I think that we’ve gotten a lot of support from counseling services, administration,” Hasler said. “President [Brian] Casey has done above and beyond responding to emails and providing concern that we are all okay, and they’re recognizing the fact that it was very traumatic for us.”

Along with support from the school, Galloway said that the girls also have each other to go to for support and that the experience has brought them closer together.

For the remainder of the season the team will be practicing at Windy Hill and Twin Bridges golf courses respectively, two other golf courses that the team frequents, and they do not plan to return to Deer Creek.

Baker-Watson said it is on their radar to find another practice facility.