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Tea Party officials found in Hinds County Courthouse after midnight

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Hinds County Sheriff's Department is investigating a possible break-in of the courthouse by Tea Party members. In the early morning hours after Tuesday's Primary, the sheriff's department says a tea party official and other party members illegally entered the building.

Hinds County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Peter Perry says he received a strange call around 2 a.m. from Central Miss Tea party President Janis Lane.

He says Lane told him she and a friend entered a side door that was propped open around 1 a.m. and then became trapped inside the courthouse..

"She said she needed my help," said Perry. She was locked inside the courthouse and couldn't get out; that she and a friend were in here and I think she said they had been out of town and were coming home and came by to see what was going on with the election."

"We're investigating the possibility of at least three tea party members entering the Hinds County courthouse after hours without supervision," said Hinds County Sheriff's Department Spokesman Othor Cain. "I do know there are closed circuit monitors and we're working to secure that."

Election officials and authorities tell us ballots and voting materials were locked in the vault in the circuit clerks office and were not compromised, but election officials are concerned about the breach.

"My concern is that there's anybody wandering around the courthouse at 12:30, one o'clock in the morning trying to gain access to the courthouse," said Hinds County Election Commissioner Connie Cochran. "And it is just a lot of red flags."

Election officials tell us they closed and locked the building at 11:30p.m.

Meanwhile hinds county deputies are investigating why Lane and others entered the building.
Criminal charges are possible.

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