BROWNSBURG, Ind. -- As police search for the man who taped his face and robbed a Fifth Third bank Tuesday afternoon, parents and day care officials want to know why police didn’t notify the child care centers about the robbery after the suspect fled the scene.
Jeff Humphreys’ son attends the Goddard School, which is one of half a dozen child care facilities located within a mile of the Kroger, where the robbery happened.
“When my wife went to pick up our child, we were told by other students’ parents that there had been a robbery a few minutes prior,” said Humphreys. “The school staff didn't know about it, and they were like ‘no we are just now hearing about it.’ Kids were outside playing while all this was going on, and the person who committed the robbery was still at large."
The suspect did not show a weapon, but did warn the tellers he would hurt them if he had to.
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He fled the store and got onto a bicycle, and headed east, according to Brownsburg Police.
The crime happened at 3:46 pm, a time when many children are still attending day care.
Humphreys wants to know why police did not alert nearby child care facilities about the robbery so workers could bring the children inside immediately.
“My fear is what if they chase him? He's going to do anything he can to avoid going to jail,” said Humphreys. “So, if he runs into a day care and takes a kid hostage to make his escape. That theoretically could happen"
Chris Adkins, director of Teddy Bear Day Care, said she was not notified about the robbery and only found out about it after the center was closed.
“I found out about it on Facebook,” said Adkins. “I read about it after the fact.”
Teddy Bear Day Care, located less than a mile from where the robbery happened, did not bring children inside or lock down because they were unaware the suspect was on the loose.
Shannon Laatz, owner of the Goddard School in Brownsburg, said they found out about the robbery from rumors and called the police department, but didn’t get much information.
“There was no formal alert,” said Laatz. “We kept the kids inside the rest of the day once we found out.”
Brownsburg Academy’s Assistant Director Sarah Rosner said they found out about the robbery from the director’s husband, who is a police officer, but the center did not get any formal notification.
Once the day care was notified, they locked down the building.
“The rest of the day, we did not let the children go outside,” said Rosner.
The Brownsburg Police Department did not provide someone for an on camera interview Thursday.
However, Chief Joe Grimes released the following statement to Call 6 Investigates, indicating the public was not in danger:
The safety of our community and specifically the locations of children are of the utmost importance to the Brownsburg Police Department. Every incident and the totality of the circumstances are taken into consideration when developing the best and proper course of action while safe-guarding our citizens in accordance with the type of call for service, severity of incident, whether known to be armed or unarmed, direction of travel, and means of flight just to name a few. With the intelligence that initial responding units had at the time of this incident, number of personnel readily on scene in a very short time from call for service, and statements obtained from witnesses and/or passerby’s deemed the area safe to conduct business as usual. We understand that police presence for an extended period of time may indicate to the public otherwise, due to not having direct knowledge of the circumstances; however, is done so by personnel of the Brownsburg Police Department so as to ensure preservation of the scene(s) and evidence to facilitate resolution for the case or investigation. If at any time, the investigation or information at hand indicated the slightest need to make notification to surrounding businesses, schools, or daycares, our staff would have not hesitated to do so in the utmost interest of public safety by means of our communication center or personnel on site; however, this particular situation did not rise to the level for this type of action, as the locations and area in which you refer in your email were at no time in harm’s way based upon law enforcement response and the suspect or suspects last known location, direction of travel, and means of flight.
Hendricks County currently has a mass alert system, however, Grimes said they are transitioning to a Everbridge, a public notification system already used by many communities in Indiana.
Jeff Humphreys said Brownsburg needs to look at a better way of communicating when a robbery or another emergency happens.
“It just seems like this needs to be reevaluated to see if we need to be giving notification on security risks sooner, or does the current situation tend to work?” said Humphreys. “That is a crucial time to get the kids inside. Anybody could jump over that fence.”