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Republican Protester Claims He Was Assaulted by Trump Supporters Before Donald Was Rushed Off Stage

Updated

John Locher/AP
John Locher/AP

Donald Trump was rushed off the stage during a rally in Reno, Nevada, on Saturday night after a protester held up a “Republicans Against Trump” sign.

In videos and tweets from the event, Trump can be seen looking out into the crowd before being rushed off the stage by a group of Secret Service agents from his protective detail. A group of agents can be seen charging towards a man in the crowd, which quickly began to disperse.

According to The Guardian‘s Ben Jacobs, a “bald white guy in a hoodie” was led out of the rally in handcuffs.

According to the Secret Service, the commotion was sparked when an unidentified person yelled “gun.” However, no evidence of a weapon was ever found.

“Upon a thorough search of the subject and the surrounding area, no weapon was found,” the Secret Service said in a statement to Politico. “A thorough investigation is ongoing at this time by the U.S. Secret Service and the Reno Police Department.”
The man who was detained by agents, Austyn Crites, told reporters that the incident was sparked when he held up a “Republicans Against Trump.” He then claims that a group of Trump supporters started assaulting him before someone shouted “gun,” according to CNN.

Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP
Evan Vucci/AP

“And then all of a sudden people next to me are starting to get violent; they’re grabbing at my arm, trying to rip the sign out of my hand,” Crites told The Guardian. He said he initially tried to defend himself but then claims someone was grabbing his neck and “could have strangled me to death.”

Crites said he was searched and then released but was not charged in relation to the incident.

He also made it clear that he is not a supporter of Hillary Clinton and had no formal connection to the campaign.

“[Evan] McMullin is someone I also support,” he told The Guardian, referring to the independent conservative that is running for president. He also said he would have supported John Kasich if he had won the primaries.

“The people who attacked me – I’m not blaming them. I’m blaming Donald Trump’s hate rhetoric,” he said.

However, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway claimed on CNN’s State of the Union that Crites had donated to Clinton’s campaign and had done canvassing work for her. USA Today claims that Crites later wrote on Facebook that he had canvassed for Clinton, donated to her campaign and voted for her. However, the unverified Facebook allegedly belonging to Crites shows no sign of any such posts and instead had multiple links to Crites’ Guardian interview.

According to reporters on the scene, Trump emerged from backstage a few minutes later, telling the crowd “Nobody said it was going to be easy for us. But we will never be stopped.”

“I would like to thank the United States Secret Service and the law enforcement in Reno and the state of Nevada for their fast and professional response,” Trump said in a statement through his campaign. “I also want to thank the many thousands of people present for their unwavering and unbelievable support. Nothing will stop us — we will make America great again!”

This is not the first time that Trump has been rushed off stage by his security. In March, the former reality TV star was rushed offstage after a man reportedly storm the stage during a rally in Ohio.