August 27, 2007
Students and staff were injured in a Saturday riot at the Ladoga Academy, officials said.
The Ladoga Academy is a residential treatment facility for troubled females between the ages of 10-18, owned CMC, Indianapolis. Representatives of that company could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
“We got a call that there was a riot and some staff members were getting battered by the girls,” Montgomery County Sheriff Luther Blanton said.
Blanton did not know the nature or extent of anyone’s injuries, but said they were not life threatening.
At least five ambulances from Ladoga, S-W and Crawfordsville ambulance services were used to transport people.
Blanton could not say if any staff members were medically treated, but four girls were taken by ambulance to St. Clare Medical Center.
He did not release the names or ages of the girls or staff involved.
When asked about a rumor of a stabbing, Blanton said someone might have been cut with a piece of building material a girl may have used as a weapon.
He told WISH TV8 that four girls who escaped might face numerous criminal charges. Investigating officer Montgomery County Police Sgt. Jake Watson, referred all questions to Blanton.
The incident began about 6 p.m. with girls fighting among themselves.
Neighbors saw commotion outside the Academy and said they called police because they knew something was awry when a girl flashed them.
“They tore ceiling tiles down in the whole building,” Blanton said of the girls. “They got into the administration part and tore it up, spraying it with fire extinguishers. They broke things, ripped wires out of the ceiling and all kinds of stuff.”
Four girls escaped after overpowering staff members, Blanton said.
Police caught the escapees west of Ladoga on Indiana 234 and called for ambulances because the girls were injured, Blanton said.
Tension was high when police arrived and Blanton, himself, witnessed a fight in the gym. Academy staff squelched it by holding girls on the floor, he said, adding, “It kept getting worse. They had two or three fights since (the initial outbreak.)
By 8 p.m. staff and police had the girls under control and the Academy had additional staff en route to replace police “because it’s their responsibility,” Blanton said, adding, “These girls are from other counties.”“We secured the area before we let any other personnel in,” Blanton said.
The Academy’s rules regarding law enforcement officers and their weapons have made it a challenge for police to respond and help in past situations at the Academy.
“The state has come up with new laws where the Academy can’t have locked rooms and they can’t have handcuffs and other (restraint) uses,” Blanton said. “We have been responding in trying to help at the Academy. We’re not allowed in the building with weapons. Our officers won’t go in without their weapons. That is part of their equipment.”
Blanton plans to meet with Academy owners this week to negotiate future actions in emergencies.
Tony and Lori Richards, live nearby the Academy and said the situation was a bit rowdy for a Ladoga Saturday night.
“I looked out the front window and saw a number of the young girls who appeared to be from the Academy,” Tony said. “Two of them had their shirts off and were only wearing sports bras.”
There appeared to be staff members walking down the road with the girls, Lori said. “What really drew attention was when one of the girls turned around, while she was walking, and flipped her bra up.”
The Richards also heard “screaming and much carrying on,” Lori said. “We went around to the back of the house and there was more activity back there. We realized that there was something going wrong.”
The Richards called the 911-emergency number, but were told that help was already on the way.
“The girls were running out into the yard in the gated fence area for quite some time,” Lori said.
“We were probably out there for a half-hour to 45 minutes. (Adults) were still trying to de-escalate the girls. They seemed to be out there in a bunch. They weren’t separating the kids out.”
The Richards at no time felt threatened.
Ambulance personnel, volunteer fire departments, a probation officer and city and county police cooperated in suppressing the “riot.”
CMC also owns the Kokomo Academy for males, and Muncie Reception and Diagnostic Center.Journal Review reporter Doug Hunt contributed to this story.