The owner of the Mining Exchange hotel in downtown Colorado Springs is feeling vindicated now that e-mails from fire department officials show Donald Trump’s entourage, not the hotel, was to blame for getting the candidate stuck in an elevator for several minutes.
The Republican presidential nominee had to be rescued by the Colorado Springs Fire Department, which lowered a ladder down through the roof, allowing Trump and about 10 others to climb out.
The July 29 incident made Trump late for a rally on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, in which, rescue be damned, he started— and ended— his speech by ripping the local fire marshal, Brett Lacey, for not allowing more supporters into the room.
“They won’t let them in, and the reason they won’t let them in is because they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, that’s why,” Trump said to loud cheers about the fire department. “That’s why our country has — hey, maybe they’re a Hillary person. Could that be the answer? Probably.”
According to a July 29 report written by a fire department official and obtained via an open records request by The Colorado Independent, fire department officials “denied [a] request by dignitary and his staff to allow people into venue over approved occupancy limit.”
This is from one narrative report:
Approved by FM Lacey to increase occupancy load by 10% or 150 people in main gymnasium and 100 in overflow room.
Worked as advisor with CSPD, EPSO, and UCCS all were in agreement to enforce original occupancy load and not allow for the 10% increase because we felt the transfer of 150 more people into the gymnasium would compromise the safety and the security of the event.
Emails obtained in a separate open records request by ABC affiliate Denver7 quote Lacey, the fire marshal, writing to a friend in part, “Turns out someone (Secret Service or his entourage) had an elevator bypass key.. they (one of them) turned it off between floors and didn’t know how to get it back on.. our folks went and fished them out… elevator guys get there and say what the crap? Who turned this off? Turned it back on and voila.”
That story jibes with what Mining Exchange hotel owner Perry Sanders told The Colorado Independent in an interview.
“They stuck themselves in an elevator,” Sanders said. “It was absolutely user error.”
And he says he received a report from the elevator manufacturer stating as much.
“This is precisely what we told everyone,” Sanders says. “Too bad it took so long to correct a story that made it seem as if there was a problem with our elevator. At least our solid local media got it right and trumped some bigger outlets.”
Following Trump’s speech, Lacey gave an interview with a local TV station and The Colorado Independent in which he said he was just doing his job.
“I think if the event planners wanted to have more people inside, we have a number of venues here in the Colorado Springs area that they could have secured and obtained,” he told KOAA-TV.
Also included in Fire Department e-mails released to The Independent are strings of congratulatory messages from colleagues about Lacey’s response to Trump’s attack on him, including one from conservative Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Helen Collins.
“I was disappointed when Donald Trump blamed the fire marshall (sic) for his campaign overselling his Town Hall. Rules are rules,” Collins wrote. “Thank you for taking into consideration the safety of our citizens.”
“You’re a class act,” wrote one public safety administrator to Lacey. “Way to handle the Trump incident with class and professionalism (Unlike him). You’re a good man Charlie Brown.”
A shift commander wrote:
“We did get a tweet from Hickenlooper supporting Brett by name and reminding all he was the Civilian of the Year. As well, he asked that Trump apologize. :) You did a great job Brett. As cool as anyone could be!!”
“Mahalo!” wrote the interim fire chief. “I spoke to the Mayor yesterday, he just commented about how incredibly silly the entire thing was.”