Fort Worth

Man accused of breaking into state Capitol is TCU student

Texas Capitol building in Austin.
Texas Capitol building in Austin. Star-Telegram/

A man arrested this past weekend on accusations that he scaled scaffolding outside the Texas Capitol in Austin, then broke into a second-floor window and damaged a historic portrait, is a TCU student from California, according to university officials.

Tanner Christian Graeber, 22, is a senior communication studies major, TCU spokeswoman Holly Ellman confirmed.

Graeber has been attending TCU since 2014.

Graeber is charged with burglary of a building and criminal trespass $2,500 to $30,000, both state-jail felonies, Travis County court records show.

He was arrested early Sunday after a DPS Trooper observed him entering a temporary wooden walkway on the south steps of the Capitol, which is undergoing renovations, and moments later, climbing up the scaffolding.

A video, shared with KXAN-TV in Austin, showed a man walking on the scaffolding, waving at the video-taker and tossing a ladder below before entering the building.

According to an arrest warrant, the trooper called to the man, later identified as Graeber, to come down but to no avail.

Graeber is accused of then using an object to break a second-story window and enter the building. Once inside, he allegedly made his way to the third floor and removed a portrait of former Governor Fletcher Stockdale that was on display in the rotunda.

He tossed the oil painting, as well as a fire extinguisher, down three stories to the first floor rotunda, breaking the portraits frame and doing damage to the painting.

The estimated damage done to the portrait was placed at $10,000 by the State Preservation Board, according to the affidavit. Stockdale had served as Texas governor for three months in 1865 after then-Governor Pendleton Murrah fled to Mexico.

Graeber was arrested at the scene by the trooper and a Capitol Security officer.

DPS officials have not said whether Graeber, who is smiling in his mugshot, may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the alleged break-in.

Graeber was released from jail on a personal recognizance bond. He could not be reached for comment Thursday and court records did not indicate whether he’d retained an attorney.

Under TCU’s disciplinary process, students alleged to have violated the University Code of Student Conduct must undergo a judicial hearing in which a panel of faculty and stuff review the case and the student can respond to the allegations.

If the panel decides by a preponderance of evidence that a violation has occurred, a sanction is imposed that can range from a warning to expulsion.

Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd