Security increased after break-in at National Civil Rights Museu - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Security increased after break-in at National Civil Rights Museum

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) - Just weeks after reopening with $27 million in renovations, police have arrested a man after they say broke into a second floor room of the Lorraine Motel at the National Civil Rights Museum in Downtown Memphis.

According to Memphis Police, officers responded just before midnight to a prowler call and was advised someone was inside room 308 of the old hotel part of the building. Officers located a man sleeping inside room 308 and arrested him without incident.

Police said the suspect, identified as Dexter Anderson, broke through the glass of room 307. He was charged with vandalism over $500 and criminal trespass.

"This is the first time anything like this has happened in the museum's history," said Tracy Lauritzen Wright, director of administration and special projects for the National Civil Rights Museum.

It's hard to imagine, hard to even think about someone coming to the National Civil Rights Museum and throwing rocks at the second floor balcony and then shattering two of the windows at rooms 307 and 308.

The two rooms broken into are next to room 306 where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed before being assassinated 46 years ago. The shattered glass is plain to see.

The damage, while on the surface, runs deep.

"It's very disrespectful," said Shawn Ward. "It's kind of extremely distasteful."

According to Memphis Police the 33-year-old Anderson is responsible for breaking both windows. He climbed into room 308 and, according to witnesses, tried to take a nap. Museum administrators say he didn't get a chance.

"Unfortunately it happened, but fortunately it wasn't as bad as it could have been," Lauritzen Wright said.

When MPD officers arrived they found Anderson inside room 308, a room that's off limits and preserved as part of the Lorraine Motel tour.

"Space that was broken into was the public viewing area, but it was not room 306 where Dr. King was staying in 1968," Lauritzen Wright said.

Anderson was arrested while crews worked to fix the broken windows.

In addition to the shattered windows, the wreath that is displayed on the balcony in front of room 306 disappeared. The missing wreath was found a few blocks away and brought back to its rightful home, on the second flood balcony in front of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel.

Museum administrators are reviewing the building's security in the wake of the incident.

"We're taking a look at that and seeing what more we might be able to do," Lauritzen Wright said.

The main section of the newly renovated museum reopened April 5, the day after the 46th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel, which was later converted into the museum.

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