A 19-year-old protester was just arrested at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas. The young man allegedly told authorities he tried to grab an officer’s gun so he could kill the candidate, according to federal authorities.
While Secret Service has made sure that no one with firearms is permitted in Trump rallies, there is an exemption for police officers. “Many of those local law enforcement officers are not particularly well trained when it comes to firearms use, tactics or retention,” tactical defense instructor, Seng Hern-Heng from Three Temples Martial Arts tells us.
In this case, however, the officers on site were able to prevent the theft of the firearm.
A complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nevada alleges that Michael Steven Sandford attempted to commit an act of violence on restricted grounds.
He appeared in court on Monday afternoon in Nevada.
Law enforcement sources say that Sandford went to a Trump rally on Saturday at the Treasure Island Casino and then advanced towards a Las Vegas police officer to say he wanted to get closer because he wanted an autograph from Trump.
The report then adds that Sandford took hold of the the handle of an officer’s gun in an attempt to remove it, but before he was able to, he was arrested by officers at the scene.
The Associated Press notes that it isn’t clear whether or not he has an attorney yet.
“Sandford had a United Kingdom driver’s license with him at the time, according to the complaint. He told a special agent that he was in the U.S. for about a year and a half and lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, then drove to the San Bernardino, California area in his car before coming to Las Vegas on June 16,” they reported.
“Sandford told officers he had been planning an assassination for about a year and was convinced he would die in the attempt. He said he also reserved a ticket for a Trump rally in Phoenix, scheduled for later in the day, as a backup.
“He told authorities that he went to the Battlefield Vegas shooting range the day before the rally and fired 20 rounds from a 9mm Glock pistol to learn how to use it. Police detectives who visited the range spoke with an employee who confirmed that he provided Sandford shooting lessons, according to the complaint.
There were about 1,500 people in attendance at the rally, “which was held in the Mystere Theater inside the casino. Attendees had to pass through metal detectors manned by Secret Service, police and casino security officials,” the AP notes.
This incident has raised the question among some Trump supporters and police accountability activists alike: if citizens are not allowed to have firearms at these events, would it also make sense to disarm the police and leave the job of protecting presidential candidates to the Secret Service?