State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Capitol police won't change procedure after vandalism

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 13, 2017 5:56 PM
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Capitol police deputy superintendent Kevin Brown holds a press conference about the vandalism in the Capitol rotunda, near where the fire extinguisher was set off. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) - It was a rough weekend for the state Capitol building.

Offices on four floors of the Senate side were temporarily closed after a Gettysburg man broke in and sprayed a fire extinguisher, potentially damaging historic paintings.

Despite the damage, Capitol police say they won't be rethinking their security plans as a result of the incident.

There's less security in the Capitol building on weekends, compared to the workweek. On Sunday morning, there were two members of the Capitol police present, along with separate House and Senate security forces.

As a result, Capitol police deputy superintendent Kevin Brown said it took about ten minutes to find and apprehend 27-year-old Ryan Stump, who emptied a fire extinguisher on the Capitol's ground floor around 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

A security officer was alerted to Stump's presence by loud noises in the Capitol rotunda--the man had thrown a wooden sign down a flight of stairs.

Drew Crompton, chief of staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, said that ten-minute window gave Stump--who was charged with public drunkenness--enough time to do some serious damage.

"The smoke--or the chemicals--from the fire extinguisher was incredibly strong," Crompton said. "The cleaning was at least several floors of the Senate."

Brown said he believes the break-in is a one-off. Other than reviewing protocols, he doesn't see any reason for Capitol police to change their methods.

"We're going to take some measures to discuss, you know, things that we may be able to do better," he said."

He noted that he doesn't fault the officers for not noticing the intruder on security cameras more quickly.

"Our officers have other duties," he said. "Whether or not they're watching every single camera every second--I really can't get into what they actually do as far as video surveillance and how we monitor things."

Stump's charges include four felony counts, including burglary and criminal mischief.

Police said the incident wasn't politically motivated.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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