Police say BB gun shots fired at opponent of Pence’s brother

Democrat Jeannine Lee Lake, who faces long odds against Republican Rep. Greg Pence in the GOP-dominated 6th District, called police after hearing what she thought was gunfire

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Black woman who says she has received numerous racist and threatening messages as an Indiana congressional candidate against Vice President Mike Pence’s brother was unintentionally shot at last week by two boys with a BB gun, not a firearm, police said Thursday.

Democrat Jeannine Lee Lake, who faces long odds against Republican Rep. Greg Pence in the GOP-dominated 6th District, called police after hearing what she thought was gunfire before a local Democratic Party meeting Oct. 15. Lake said she had just parked outside a Muncie restaurant when she and others heard what they thought were three gunshots outside the driver’s side window. Lake said she was rattled but uninjured, and she noticed no damage to the vehicle.

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Muncie police searched the area but found no damage or shell casings, Deputy Chief Melissa Pease said in a news release.

Police said investigators reviewed surveillance video from a business and a city bus station to track down two boys, ages 17 and 13, who were running around the area at the time and passing each other what appeared to be a gun. The teens told investigators that they had fired at Lake’s car “just because it was there.”

In this Friday, June 19, 2020, photo Jeannine Lee Lake, Democratic candidate for Indiana’s 6th congressional district, speaks during an interview following a Juneteenth day event in Columbus, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Police found the BB gun in nearby bushes. The boys were unaware that anyone was in Lake’s car, Peace said, adding that “there is no evidence that they had an intended target or plan.”

The agency forwarded the case to juvenile authorities and the prosecutor’s office for further review.

Lake told the AP Thursday: “Since I don’t know who they are, I can only assume it was all just ‘fun and games’ that ended with shots fired my way.”

The scare comes as some law enforcement, election officials and politicians nationwide are concerned about violence as a divided electorate votes in one of the most contentious elections in U.S. history.

Lake said that after the Delaware County GOP posted her personal address and contact information on Facebook this summer, she received phone messages in which people used racial slurs and other derogatory language and has seen her property damaged. Lake said she’s also received “threatening” packages in the mail. Last week, she filed a police report after her campaign RV was broken into.

In this Friday, June 19, 2020, photo Jeannine Lee Lake, Democratic candidate for Indiana’s 6th congressional district, passes out yard signs from her motorhome during a Juneteenth day event in Columbus, Ind. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Pence has denied any involvement and asked that the prosecutor “conduct a full investigation.”

Lake said last week that she was considering suspending in-person campaigning activities due to security costs. However, Lake said the governor’s office has since offered to have the Indiana State Police provide protection until the election.

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Lake is the only Black woman running for federal office in Indiana this fall. Greg Pence easily defeated her in 2018 to win the seat, which Mike Pence held for 12 years before becoming governor and then vice president.

Throughout her campaign, Lake has spoken against racism and bigotry and in support of civil rights. This summer, she took to social media to criticize Pence for allowing the sale of objects with racist depictions of African Americans at a sprawling antiques mall he co-owns.

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Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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