Tea party official, others not charged over courthouse incident

tea partyJACKSON — No charges will be filed against a tea party officer and two others representing the challenger in a Senate primary after they became trapped in a courthouse in the middle of the night, hours after officials had gone home from counting votes.

Janis Lane, Scott Brewster and Rob Chambers were locked inside the Hinds County Courthouse more than an hour after entering shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday through an unlocked door.

The Hinds County Sheriff’s Department says in a statement that it has concluded no criminal activity took place.

“Our investigation revealed that the three individuals were able to enter the courthouse through a side door marked for employees only,” Sheriff’s Department spokesman Othor Cain said in a statement. “This door was either propped open or was malfunctioning at the time of entry.”

Cain said the three had access only to the common areas of the courthouse, including the hallways and restrooms.

“Based on our findings, the door in question closed behind them upon entry and they proceeded to look for individuals that were counting ballots in an effort to assist. After not finding anyone in the building it is then they called for assistance to get out,” Cain said.

Noel Fritsch, spokesman for candidate Chris McDaniel, said the three went to check on why some precincts hadn’t been counted. Once inside, the door locked behind them and they had to call for help to get out.

Lane is president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party and is a longtime supporter of McDaniel, who is trying to unseat six-term Republican Sen. Thad Cochran.

The McDaniel-Cochran race is going to a June 24 runoff.

Brewster works as coalition director for the McDaniel campaign. Chambers works for the lobbying arm of the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

 

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