Open door a problem at the Statehouse

Indiana Statehouse
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A man turned to 24-Hour News 8 after he was stunned by his discovery at the Indiana Statehouse.

It was a simple Sunday trip to show some out-of-town guests a special plaque honoring fallen firefighters. But the man quickly realized he had access to a building that should have been locked up and guarded.

Usually, you need a key card requiring security clearance to get inside the statehouse. Or you have to go through a metal detector manned by Capital Police. But this past Sunday, something happened that wasn’t supposed to.

“I wasn’t sure whether the building was open on Sunday but we headed over there anyway,” said Gary, who asked that 24-Hour News 8 not use his last name.

Gary said he wanted to take his guests inside the Capital Building. His brother noticed the door on the basement level, on the west side of the building, appeared to be open.

“And so I walked over, I opened the door right up. I could see the metal detection machine and I could see quite a ways in the building,” Gary said.  Most of the lights were off. It was completely empty of any people. There was no one around. And it was just abandoned it seemed like.”

Fearing he shouldn’t be there, Gary and his guests left.

In an email to the Indiana Department of Administration, which oversees the building, officials said a mechanical failure occurred. They said the door was actually in a locked position, but the latch failed when pulled to gain access.

“It is believed the extreme cold may have been a contributing factor to the mechanical failure,” said a spokeswoman in the email.

“I was shocked, not particularly because I could open the door, but because there was no one around,” said Gary.

The department is taking action.  According to the email, “because of this mechanical failure, IDOA and Capital Police will conduct hourly door checks” it said.

According to the Department of Administration, there is a project in the design phase to replace many of the doors in the statehouse because they have surpassed their useful life. No timeline yet, but $122,000 has been budgeted to replace them.

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