June 9, 2014 9:40:09 AM
JACKSON -- The Hinds County District Attorney's office will investigate how a staffer for state Sen. Chris McDaniel's U.S. Senate campaign and two other McDaniel supporters got locked in the county courthouse after Tuesday's primary election.
The county sheriff's department has concluded that Janis Lane, Scott Brewster and Rob Chambers did nothing criminal.
They apparently walked into the Hinds County Courthouse shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday and called for help after realizing they were locked in.
Hinds County Supervisor Robert Graham said his office was bombarded with calls after the sheriff's office released its report, and he asked District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith to investigate.
"Even if there was no criminal activity, it still doesn't account for why these three individuals were in the county courthouse after hours with no county employee," Graham told The Clarion-Ledger. "We have no information whether they had criminal intentions or not. We don't know how long they were in there . We need to have a total accounting."
Brewster is McDaniel's campaign coalition coordinator, Lane is president of the board of the Central Mississippi Tea Party and Chambers is a consultant with the Mississippi Baptist Christian Action Commission. Noel Fritsch, spokesman for candidate Chris McDaniel, said last week that 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, he said.
Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and McDaniel are in a June 24 runoff. Cochran had a 2-1 margin over McDaniel in Hinds County, but McDaniel led Cochran statewide by a narrow margin.
Smith said he hopes to complete the investigation within days.
"We will try to answer the questions supervisors have," Smith said.
Sheriff's Department spokesman Othor Cain said in a statement Thursday afternoon that Lane and the others could get into common areas of the courthouse such as hallways and restrooms.
"The three individuals were able to enter the courthouse through a side door marked for employees only. This door was either propped open or was malfunctioning at the time of entry," Cain wrote.
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