Alaska Legislature

X-ray of package at Alaska Capitol identifies deactivated grenade and rifle round

JUNEAU — After a deactivated grenade and rifle round were found in a package mailed to Alaska’s Capitol recently, the agency in charge of operations asked lawmakers and staff to take more care “when mailing certain items to the Capitol.”

Jessica Geary, director of the Legislative Affairs Agency, declined to be interviewed but described the find in a memo to lawmakers this week. The memo did not specifically say when the items were discovered or who had them mailed to the Capitol.

Packages arriving at the Capitol are regularly X-rayed for safety. According to the memo, an X-ray revealed the grenade and rifle round, which had been sent to a staffer. The Capitol’s security chief, Raymie Vinson, was nearby and identified that they had been deactivated and posed no threat.

“Luckily for us, this is a benign example with an expert in place who was able to address and it didn’t require evacuating the Capitol,” said Rep. Sara Hannan, who chairs the legislative committee in charge of Capitol operations.

Vinson declined to be interviewed, and Hannan said she did not know who had the items mailed to the Capitol. Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River and vice chair of the committee, said she had not dealt with the issue.

“Had Chief Vinson not been onsite the protocol would have been to notify the Juneau Police Department for appropriate action, likely resulting in evacuation of the Capitol and possibly surrounding buildings, all of which require additional resources by the mailroom, security, and local and state law enforcement, as well as the potential to cause unnecessary panic for building occupants,” the memo said.

“While the items received are legal and non-lethal, requesting such items be sent to the Capitol could have serious unintended consequences. As such, please use your personal mailing address for questionable items that might cause concern if scanned by an X-ray device,” the memo said.

Hannan said a subcommittee is already drafting a new security policy, and the incident “gives another area of policy that clearly we need to have policies around.”

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.