CHEYENNE – The exterior doors of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department were vandalized with fake blood early Thursday morning, a few days after a protest was held at the Wyoming State Capitol against public health orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kathy Emmons, executive director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, said the vandalism occurred early Thursday morning, likely around 5:30 a.m. The timeframe was determined because a copy of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle had already been delivered when the fake blood, material often used on Halloween, was splattered across the front and side doors.

While there were no suspects as of Thursday morning, local health and law enforcement officials noted the motivation could be tied to local opposition to COVID-19 health orders. On Monday, roughly 250 residents gathered at the state Capitol to protest the orders and burn masks. The protest was one of several held in Cheyenne since last spring.

Emmons speculated the events Wednesday in Washington, D.C., in which a President Trump-incited mob invaded the nation’s Capitol and forced lawmakers to take shelter, also could have driven the vandal to act.

“My assumption is that it’s probably in part based on Monday, when people were becoming escalated, but then also, maybe more so what happened last night in D.C.,” Emmons said. “I don’t know that it was necessarily about us, so much as somebody wanting to act out in a really destructive way.”

A detective with the Cheyenne Police Department responded to the scene around 8:45 a.m., according to CPD public information officer Alex Farkas. The case will be under investigation through the local police department.

“There has been a lot of anti-mask protests occurring downtown, and we think it could be in correlation to that,” Farkas said Thursday morning. “There was also a case of fake blood splattered over the lawn of the Capitol last week, so it could be correlated to that.”

Newly sworn-in Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins learned about the incident Thursday morning from Emmons, and he said in an interview that he was saddened by the news, especially given local health officials’ role in educating and protecting the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You saw what happened in Washington yesterday and what’s happened here today; it’s really sad. It’s OK for us to have disagreement and stuff, but we need to be able to go about those with some sort of decorum,” Collins said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words, but it’s really tragic. It really bothers me.”

With the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department serving as a main base for the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emmons said she was surprised by the vandalism despite some of the local anti-mask sentiment.

“We’ve got staff out here who are working really hard to try to keep the citizens of the county safe. We’re doing testing, we’re trying to get people vaccinated, and when something like this happens, it really shakes the staff,” Emmons said. “It would be much more productive if they wanted to come have a conversation with me about what their problem is, rather than sneaking around and vandalizing a building in the dark of night.”

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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