Police were alerted to the large party at the American Countryside Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning, June 15, by a concerned parent.
"We received a tip from a parent that picked a student up (from the party) and had some concerns and called us,“ said Elkhart County Undersheriff Sean Holmes.
Officers from the Sheriff’s Teen Alcohol Reduction (STAR) team arrested 60 people for underage drinking, but more than 100 partiers escaped when police arrived at 12:45 a.m. Sunday morning, according to a teen who was at the party.
The partygoer, who asked that his name be withheld, said that a large number of underage partiers ran when officers arrived and still more slipped out of the building while officers were not looking.
Holmes said sheriff’s deputies try to contain the party in a calm manner, but “you can’t contain everybody.”
Three adults were arrested on preliminary charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and maintaining a common nuisance.
Charles Himes, 50, of Elkhart, was arrested on preliminary charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and maintaining a common nuisance.
Himes, who is a part owner of the Waste Away Group, owns the American Countryside building.
LouAnn Reynolds, 49, of Elkhart was arrested on a preliminary charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
John Dixon, 45, was cited and released on a preliminary charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to his LinkedIn page, Dixon is employed by Per Mar Security Services and was a deputy with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department from 1996 to 1999.
The anonymous partygoer said a security guard was hired by the hosts to confiscate keys as the partiers arrived and they were told they would not be allowed to leave until morning.
Holmes said this was one of the largest parties the STAR team has been called to in recent years.
"Large parties like this used to be pretty frequent and that was one of reasons we formed STAR unit,” he said.
“One thing we see is that adults justify these types of parties by saying, ‘We are going to keep them here and keep them safe because they’re going to do it anyway,’” Holmes said. “What they’re really doing is passing on information (to the kids) saying it’s OK to break the law.”