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Court Allows First Responder Training in Vacant Indianapolis High-Rise

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DEBY KNOX

WISH

Reprinted with Permission

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - One of the biggest eyesores of the Indianapolis skyline got a once over Tuesday.



The Keystone Towers, an abandoned apartment complex profiled in a 24-Hour News 8 special report last March , was the site of a training exercise and a look-see by police and firefighters dressed in hazmat suits.

The Keystone Towers have seen better days. Currently, they are tagged with gang graffiti and broken windows. There are reports of asbestos and water damage. Hazmat crews used it Tuesday to train.

From about 8:00 in the morning until the afternoon, crews used the scenario of a weapons of mass destruction incident. Police, firefighters, rescue personnel, the National Guard and even IndyGo were all there to practice and videotape the inside of the building.



Last March, 24-Hour News 8 highlighted some of the problems with the building. A one-time owner named Jorges Newberry bought the building and abandoned it in 2003. The city is still trying to find him.

Indianapolis Housing Agency Executive Director Bud Myers explained the accusations against Newberry.

"What Jorges has done is take money off the top, put it in his pocket and moved on to other communities, other cities, other states," said Myers in March of 2009.

The current owner, Southeastern Partners, has been cited as well.



Tuesday's drill was accompanied by court papers allowing police and firefighters inside.

"We know there's mold, we know there's asbestos, we know there are some areas of water damage," said Debbi Fletcher of Emergency Management. "We're looking at those things, we're looking. There's a chance there's vagrants in the area."

Fletcher said her department is compiling the pictures of the inside of the building and they will be sending them to 24-Hour News 8 in the next few days.



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