Donald Trump Swarmed by Secret Service After Man Allegedly Rushes the Stage During Ohio Rally
Hours after Donald Trump canceled a Friday night rally in Chicago, citing safety concerns as hundreds of vocal protestors filled the crowd, he appeared before a crowd in Dayton, Ohio, to condemn the “planned attack” in Illinois, Reuters reports – even as a man at the Dayton event allegedly moved toward the stage, sending Secret Service agents to surround Trump.
Video from the rally captured the moment agents suddenly appeared next to Trump, 69, when a man allegedly “attempted to breach the secure buffer and was removed rapidly and professionally,” a campaign spokeswoman told NBC News.
Identified as Thomas Dimassimo, he was charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic, Dayton International Airport Police Chief Mike Etter told NBC News. (Dayton Airport representatives did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)
Trump himself seemed jarred by the moment, though he bounced back afterward, telling the crowd, according to the Dayton Daily News, “Is anything more fun than a Donald Trump rally?”
At other moments during the rally, the Republican presidential front-runner remarked upon Friday’s events, according to Reuters and the Associated Press.
“We made a decision. And I hated to do this, because frankly it wouldn’t have been easier to do. But I didn’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Trump said, according to the AP. “You would have had a problem like they haven’t seen in a long time. Because we have people that are so amazing.”
“All of a sudden, a planned attack just came out of nowhere,” Trump said of the Friday protests, according to Reuters.
The leaders of the protest groups were “professional people,” he said. But Trump pointed to others in connection with the protests, according to Reuters.
“[Trump supporters] were taunted, they were harassed by these other people, these other people by the way, some represented [presidential candidate Sen.] Bernie [Sanders], our communist friend,” he said.
“Now really Bernie should tell his people … he should really get up and say to his people, ‘Stop, stop,’ ” Trump said.
The rally cancellation triggered tense reactions in and around the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the event was planned. Five people were arrested and two officers injured, police said, according to CNN, though it’s unclear if those arrested were protestors or Trump supporters.
Physical altercations also broke out among attendees, according to photos and video.
Other presidential candidates quickly condemned Trump’s “divisive” rhetoric, saying it played a key role in the night’s events.
His public comments about how to handle protestors have drawn scrutiny for appearing to condone or encourage violence; and his rallies have in recent months been noted for the tense and aggressive tone of their attendees.
Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon after the cancellation “that I hope that my tone is not that of causing violence.”
In a statement to PEOPLE Saturday, his campaign said the cancellation came after consultation with Chicago police, the Secret Service and private security.
“Commander George Devereux of the CPD was informed of everything before it happened,” the campaign said. “Likewise, Secret Service and private security firms were consulted and totally involved.
“We have received great credit from everyone for cancelling this event. Nobody was injured and crowds disbanded quickly and peacefully. It has been termed ‘really good management and leadership under great pressure!’ ”
“It would have been easier for Mr. Trump to have spoken, but he decided, in the interest of everyone’s safety, to postpone the event.”
• Additional reporting by SANDRA SOBIERAJ-WESTFALL