Man who vandalized Ohio Statehouse claimed he’d been shot at
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man who broke into the Ohio Statehouse, smashed windows and discharged a fire extinguisher told a 911 dispatcher he entered the building because he’d been shot at, according to a copy of the call released Tuesday.
The man also said the person who shot at him was inside the Statehouse, according to the call. The Ohio State Highway Patrol says there’s no evidence of either claim. The man appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was trying to get medical help, the patrol has said.
“I’m inside the state building. I broke in,” the man says in the 911 call, before asking for police to be sent.
“Why did you do that?” the dispatcher asks.
“Somebody just shot at me!” the man replies.
The man appeared to be overdosing and Narcan, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, might be needed, according to a Columbus police radio log obtained by The Associated Press.
Security video from the incident released Tuesday shows the man entering the Statehouse through the west side doors around 3:43 a.m., smashing an inner door window with a fire extinguisher and then hurling it through the window. He then picked up a second fire extinguisher and discharged it as well.
A second video shows the man sitting at a security booth on the building’s south side a few minutes later making a call. He then puts the phone down, finds a sign and uses it to smash additional door windows.
Columbus police responding to the 911 call found the man outside on the west lawn of the downtown building near the monument to former Ohio governor and president William McKinley. The 36-year-old suspect has been charged with vandalism and trespassing and is being treated at a downtown hospital.
In June, the exterior of the Statehouse was defaced with red hand prints and the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot” in protest of police brutality.
In late May, people protesting the death of George Floyd smashed 28 Statehouse windows; damaged doors, light poles and flags; and dumped several garbage cans. One person briefly entered an office through a broken window but retreated before troopers within the building could catch him.
The patrol upped the presence of troopers at the buildings after those incidents, and again in January after reports that the Statehouse might be among those targeted by supporters of former President Donald Trump angered by the election results.
The patrol won’t disclose details about any security upgrades, but access to the building has been increasingly tightened over the years. Where visitors could once enter through multiple doors, public entry is now generally limited to two points, both of which require passing through metal detectors.
The police log indicated only one trooper was on duty at the time of the break-in, with a sergeant en route a few minutes later. A spokesperson for Republican Senate President Matt Huffman said lawmakers expected a close review of what happened and why.
“Security is a priority for statehouse personnel and the public regardless of time of day,” said Huffman spokesman John Fortney.
Statehouse staffing varies based on the time of day, day of the week, scheduled events and known security threats, said patrol spokesperson Lt. Craig Cvetan.
He said the patrol will conduct an internal review of the incident and continues to work with the board overseeing the Statehouse on technology used to monitor the building.
“Our role in providing a secure environment at the Statehouse is something we take very seriously,” Cvetan said.