The Village Pantry on University and Dill streets had nine 911 calls since school began on Aug. 22, according to UPD and MPD crime logs. With 21 calls total since the beginning of 2016, many people who live and work in the Village find the area has become too much to handle. Grace Ramey // DN
Village Pantry employee, residents frustrated over commotion in area
The Village can be a lively place on the weekends, with a number of bars and restaurants attracting big crowds. But recently, the commotion has become too much too handle, some who live and work in the bustling area said.
The Village Pantry near University and Dill streets has made nine calls to 911 since school started Aug. 22, according to University Police Department and Muncie Police Department crime logs. Altogether, there have been a total of 21 calls from the location since the beginning of 2016.
Patrick Townsend, a clerk from Yorktown who works at the Village Panty on University Avenue, said he doesn’t feel safe working at the gas station on the weekends. One recent night in particular shocked him the most.
The Village Pantry near University and Dill streets has made nine calls to 911 since school started Aug. 22, according to University Police Department crime logs. Altogether, there have been a total of 21 calls from the location since the beginning of 2016.
Around 2:30 a.m. Aug. 28, shots were fired outside of the gas station while he was working. Townsend said during the frenzied event he ducked into the back of the store to protect himself from flying bullets.
“I don’t see how nobody got hit," Townsend said. “It’s just a good thing the Gatorade was stacked in the window that night because if it wasn’t, somebody would have got shot.”
Although Townsend said he likes his laid-back job, he thinks there needs to be more concern about the employees who work there on the weekends.
“Every weekend there is only one person here," he said. "It’s unsafe.”
Townsend said he believes the Village Pantry could be safer if there were two clerks working or if the store hired a security guard. But the gas station employee said he feels like no one cares. When upper management calls about an incident at the store, they only ask if anyone got hurt during the incident.
“They call ... ‘Did anybody get hurt?’ ‘No.’ ‘OK well fine,’” Townsend said. “[There is] no real concern.”
Townsend said there is always something going on at the location due to the store's close proximity to nearby bars, and he believes it has contributed to an increase in crime.
“Guys come up here try to sell drugs to the students, pick up on the chicks — this is like a confrontational zone because this is where everybody meets," Townsend said.
Regional Village Pantry management was not available for comment, and police could not confirm any specific factors contributing to increased crime in the Village.
In the apartments above the Village Pantry, however, tenants said they often hear the people at the bars, and one said she even heard the gunshots from the shooting Aug. 28.
Lydia Hedrick, a senior child development major, lives in the apartments above the Village Panty and remembered what happened during the "crazy" event.
Hedrick said she and her boyfriend were watching Netflix until about 2:30 a.m. when they decided to get some sleep.
“We probably had the TV off for no more than 10 minutes before we heard some arguing happening outside my window," Hedrick said. “For me, that was nothing unusual to happen at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday.”
That was until the arguing grew louder and turned into yelling. Hedrick said her boyfriend got out of bed and looked out the window.
“I would say at least 30 people were out there yelling and screaming at each other,” she said.
After looking out the window for a few seconds, Hedrick said she saw people ducking and running behind cars that were parked at the pumps in the Village Pantry lot. Immediately after, Hedrick said she began to hear gunshots and had to run into her kitchen to get away from the window. Shortly after that, she heard emergency sirens nearby.
“I sat on the kitchen ground for a couple minutes just processing what just happened and debating if I should wake up my roommate or not," Hedrick said.
Having been just two weeks into the school year, Hedrick said the event seemed "unreal."
“[It was] just the thing I reassured my parents wouldn’t happen as they helped me move into here," she said.
Olivia Anderson, a senior human resource management major and Hedrick’s roommate, said she frequently hears the emergency vehicles coming up and down University Avenue, as well as bar fights that happen outside of bars and other businesses in the area.
“One time, my boyfriend stopped someone trying to come up my stairwell late at night, and I'd say that's one of the scariest experiences I've had in the Village so far," Anderson said. “I honestly am skeptical of my safety at times.”
Officers at the Muncie Police Department advised students and community members in the Village should take normal precautions when in the area, especially during the warmer months when there are larger numbers of people in the Village. People should always call the police when they feel there is something or someone causing a potential threat to those in the area.