Carmel High School football coach proud of players’ response after gunshots interrupt game against Ben Davis


When gunshots rang out from outside the Ben Davis football stadium in the fourth quarter of the Oct. 1 homecoming game between Ben Davis and Carmel, there was fear among the Carmel contingent.

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“There was a lot of confusion after the gunshots, which led to panic,” Carmel High School football coach John Hebert said Oct. 2. “Once the team safely made it to the locker room, the concern for family and loved ones in the stands was overwhelming.”

The Carmel team quickly ran off the field.

Information from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept. stated that a 16-year-old had been wounded in the arm and sent to the hospital. David Tillman, 18, was arrested and faced a preliminary charge of aggravated battery.

Hebert said he was proud of the way his team handled the situation.

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out with individual accounts of how our assistants, players, managers and trainers were helping people to safety,” he said. “We’ve been focusing on what those unfortunate events revealed about the people in our program.”

The game was initially suspended with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter and Carmel leading 35-21. A decision was quickly made to call the game concluded.

“I can’t imagine bringing the team back on the field to play the last six minutes after all of that,” Hebert said.

Jeff Hester, CHS assistant athletic director, was at the game and said it was evident that the disruption was caused by gunshots.

“The team, cheerleaders and students who were in attendance did exactly as they have been trained to do,” he said, adding that students have drills at school on how to respond when there is an active shooter.

Dr. George Sinnis, whose son, Lawson, is a Carmel senior defensive back, was on the Ben Davis sidelines taking photos.

“The Carmel players by the sidelines dropped down, but I guess the coaches started yelling, ‘Go to the locker rooms,’” Sinnis said. “The guys on the field ran straight to the locker room. Most of the Ben Davis players just got down, which was a smart thing to do at that point.”

Sinnis said after initially being stunned, he could tell the shots came from the parking lot.

“The parents on the Ben Davis side all hit the floor,” Sinnis said. “The parents on the Carmel side were like, ‘What’s going on?’”

Sinnis said his oldest son, Loukas, a former CHS player, was in the Carmel stands and yelled for everyone to get down.

“There was a group of parents and kids in the end zone, and they got under the bleachers (on the visitors’ side),” Sinnis said. “Everyone hid away for a while.”

At first, Sinnis said police were trying to keep fans from leaving, but eventually they were told it was OK to exit the stadium.

Sinnis said Ben Davis has metal detectors set up to keep fans from bringing weapons into the stadium.

According to a release by Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township Superintendent Jeff Butts, only one of the individuals identified as being involved was a former Wayne Township student and none are currently enrolled at Ben Davis.