Foreign Nationals Charged In Courthouse Break-In
3 Charged With Burglary, 2 Others Charged With Burglary, Criminal Mischief
SAN ANTONIO - Five foreign nationals with French visas were charged with burglary in connection with Wednesday morning's break-in at the Bexar County Courthouse. Two of the men in the group have also been charged with criminal mischief, Bexar County sheriff's officials said.
Adil Ajjaid, Camille Huet and Meissa Mithra posted bond but the men were still being held while their immigration status is investigated. Mehdi Ajjaid and Hicham Ajjaid remained in custody early Thursday morning.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the men were playing a prank when they broke into the courthouse.
During a news conference Wednesday, Wolff said surveillance video from inside the courthouse showed some of the men wearing sombreros and waving a court gavel. Wolff said the men appeared to be having a good time.
"It was a very unusual event to happen," Wolff said. "They certainly didn't steal anything because they didn't take anything out of the courthouse."
Bexar County Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz said the men, who may be of Morracan descent, didn't speak much English but cooperated with the help of translator.
"They've been cooperative with us and there's no reason to suspect it was any terrorist activity of any description," Ortiz said. "But just think, anywhere it in the United States, two or three foreign nationals break into a courtroom, that's going to attract a lot of attention."
An earlier report that two of the men were on the FBI's watch list hasn't been confirmed, officials said.
When deputies responded to a burglary alarm at 1 a.m., they found two of the men walking outside the building, sheriff's officials said.
Sheriff's officials determined the men broke into the building through a door on the fourth floor.
Three men were located inside the building and two were found outside near a recreational vehicle, which contained several documents and proof the men had been traveling across the country for some time, sheriff's officials said.
The men told authorities they broke into the courthouse to get a scenic view of San Antonio.
Authorities swept through the courthouse to search for explosives but nothing was found.
Incident Prompts Precautions At Convention Center
San Antonio police are investigating whether the break-in at the court house might have ties to an intelligence convention that's been going on all this week.
More than 4,000 people are attending the United States Geospatial Intelligence convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.
The event focuses on satellites and other tools that are used in the field of national security as a way to keep an eye out for possible terrorist activities.
As a precaution, San Antonio's bomb squad conducted a sweep of the convention center after giving the all-clear at the court house. According to a police officer working security at the site, they did not find anything suspicious.
Keith Masback, with the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, the group behind the convention, said he has no reason to believe there is any connection between the incident and the convention.
"It's a serendipitous event, as far as I know right now," Masback said. "But it just heightens our awareness and heightens our resolve that what we're doing here this week is critically important for the nation."
Masback said while he appreciates the efforts of local law enforcement officers, his agency is well prepared for any possible trouble. He said it has a contingency plan in place at all times.
"We're very confident that we took all the appropriate measures before that incident had even occurred and we were prepared to make sure that we would mitigate any possible threat," he said.
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