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‘It’s not that kids are evil’: See Halloweekend from the eyes of an IUPD officer


Three girls dressed up in costume take a breather outside Taco Bell next to Kilroy's Sports Bar, which had partially closed for the night in 2016. Halloween weekend in Bloomington, Indiana, means many students from IU dress up and go out to parties or to the bars. IDS file photo

A pack of angels wandered down South Lincoln Street.

Dorothy asked if anyone had a smoke. A witch passed her an American Spirit.

Little Red Riding Hood slouched against the Bluebird, looking gloomy.

“I’m just tired of the noise,” she said, hunkering down further into her cape.

Ghouls and goblins sipped sugary concoctions as they stumbled up and down Kirkwood Avenue this weekend. IU and Bloomington honored the spookiest time of the year the only way they knew how: with excess.

Throughout the past five years, the IU Police Department averaged about 18 arrests each Halloween weekend. This semester, a standard weekend for IUPD ends with about 14 arrests. This year’s “Halloweekend” clocked in at 16.

While most of the weekend’s crime was less sinister, a shooting at a fraternity’s Halloween party just after midnight Sunday left one 21-year-old man dead and another in critical condition.

Students partied on 10 miles down the road. They wouldn’t learn of the shooting until the morning.


IUPD officer Josh Cooksey doesn’t believe in ghosts. He laughs at scary movies. He thinks people use Halloween as a chance to let loose.

“I think it represents a darker side of yourself,” he said.

When he drove out to Collins LLC around 10 p.m. Friday night, he didn’t know he was headed to his first big call of the weekend.

At the dorm, the scent of marijuana filled a second-story hallway.

Officers stalked up and down the hall, sniffing doorjambs until they determined where the stench was coming from. They knocked and pulled six freshmen out of the room. 

“This is a little more intense than a speeding ticket, but you’re not going in cuffs, not going to jail,” officer Jeremy Haluda said.

That would be true for all but one of them.

An officer walked out of the room and asked who the gray backpack belonged to.

Michael Shepherd, 18, owned up. He wasn’t an IU student, just in town for the weekend visiting some friends. Two officers pulled him back into the room for questioning. His eyes drooped and he swayed a little as he stood.

Shepherd was prepared to deal drugs to the weekend’s partygoers — a charge much more serious than the possession tickets the officers expected to hand out.

Police bagged the evidence, namely a container about the size of a pretzel jar filled to the brim with marijuana buds. The container should’ve been airtight, but its seal was broken. Hence the smell.

The grand total would be 177.4 grams of marijuana, 23 CBD oil cartridges, two bars of Xanax, a vape and a scale.

Officers cuffed Shepherd in the hallway as the other five watched. He was taken to jail on preliminary felony charges of possession of marijuana and other controlled substances and dealing marijuana.

It wasn’t even midnight. Everyone still had a long way to go.

Before leaving, officers made the students dump out their alcohol. RumChata liqueur, Kamchatka vodka, a handle of cheap whiskey and some Corona Lights swirled down the sink.

Cops snacked on sour gummy worms back at the station as others bagged up more weed.

As the clock struck midnight, two devils in platform heels and fishnets strode into Steak 'n Shake.

Pink ladies, purgers and referees piled into Ubers. A lion and Mr. Incredible shared a scooter ride.

Driving down Kirkwood Avenue, officer Cooksey pointed out his window to a bearded man, robe billowing in the wind.

“That’s Jesus back there!” he said.

The radio squawked.

“City is looking for a pink Care Bear,” Cooksey explained. “Welfare check.”

Police rushed to a house on 19th Street to break up a brawl of about 50 people. Someone said people were throwing bottles at the house — there might even have been guns. Everyone scattered when the cops showed up. No arrests.

At McNutt Quad, 15 nervous-looking teens sat in a row, bookended by officers. Dorothy stretched her legs, crossing her ruby-red slippers. Toto sat in his basket nearby.

The scent of alcohol and vomit was thick in the hallway.

“We just pulled two more out of the closet,” one officer said as he walked out of the room. “One’s throwing up now.”

Another officer lugged two handles of Smirnoff to the bathroom, watching them, too, swirl down the drain. He would dump out a total of seven bottles of various alcohols.

“It’s not that kids are evil,” Cooksey said. “It’s just that Halloween tends to bring out the worst in you.”

He smiled.

“It’s usually a fun weekend because of that.”

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