Juveniles arrested in Eola trespassing incident

Published 11:47 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017


NATCHEZ — Natchez police late Tuesday responded to a call of trespassing inside the former Natchez Eola Hotel, ending with the arrest of two juveniles.

Police received a call at approximately 9:20 p.m. about a juvenile problem at the Eola.

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Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said three officers were sent to the scene, and Natchez Police Capt. Scott Frye said two juveniles were charged with trespassing, though more young adults were likely involved.

The former hotel building has had ongoing security issues over the past few years after it closed in December 2014. Police have responded to a number of similar trespassing incidents. Armstrong said a nearly identical situation to Tuesday night occurred just last week.

The time spent responding to these incidents at the vacant building, Armstrong said, detracts from the police department’s ability to handle other important duties.

“The biggest problem is we are absorbing a lot of our man hours going to this unsecured building … running them out and bringing them in,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said police will sweep the entire building when responding to calls such as these, requiring them to use the stairwell (since the elevators are not operational) to go floor by floor to check every room.

“It’s very taxing on our man power to continue to do that,” Armstrong said. “I certainly wish the owner would take some responsibility and step up to the plate and do what needs to be done to secure that structure.”

The building’s owner, Virginia attorney Robert Lubin, is currently in the process of drafting a proposal to reopen the building as a hotel. Lubin said he received a text last night about the incident, though he did not read it until this morning.

“Clearly, I’m not happy about it,” Lubin said. “We’ve been working feverishly to get this hotel project going, and this kind of thing is extremely frustrating. I don’t understand why everyone wants to keep breaking in.”

Lubin said he has made efforts to enhance security of the building, but that it’s impossible to have security present around the clock when the building is not livable.

Lubin said he has hired someone to check the building multiple times a day and is considering taking on more security.

While Lubin said having security present 24 hours a day is not possible, he said more security is necessary moving forward, particularly during the night.

Lubin also said he wanted to coordinate with Armstrong to talk about how these types of situations should be handled in the future.