JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WFOX/CNN) - A 27-year-old man faces several charges, including aggravated assault, after he allegedly drove his van through a tent in Florida where Republican volunteers were registering voters.
The Republican Party of Duval County had six volunteers registering voters Saturday afternoon at the Kernan Village shopping center in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reports an older brown van, allegedly driven by 27-year-old Gregory Timm, drove through the table and tent.
Thankfully, no one was injured, even though Mark Alfieri, who was volunteering in the tent, says the van came to within a half-foot of hitting the people inside.
“Out of the blue, a man approached us in a van, was waving at us, kind of a friendly demeanor, thought he was coming up to talk to us. Instead, he accelerated his vehicle and plowed right into our tent, our tables,” Alfieri said.
After driving through the tent, the suspect stopped, got out of the van and took a video of the scene, Alfieri says. He is also accused of flipping off the volunteers before fleeing.
“I shouldn't have to worry about the safety of volunteers who are just trying to register voters. I thank God our people were OK, that they were able to get out of the way in time,” said Duval GOP Chairman Dean Black.
The sheriff’s office announced early Sunday on Facebook that Timm had been identified as the suspect and arrested. He is charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a person 65 years of age or older, one count of criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license.
Detectives say they do not know if the suspect’s motivation was political in nature, as the investigation has just started. However, the Duval County GOP said on Facebook its members were “intentionally targeted.”
“The Republican Party of Duval County plans to redouble its efforts to register voters and will continue its fight with renewed intensity to re-elect President Donald Trump,” read the post in part.
Daniel Henry, the president of the Duval County Democratic Party, released a statement saying they are condemning the attack.
“No one’s life should be placed in danger for exercising their first amendment rights. As Democrats, but more importantly, as residents of this great city of Jacksonville, we call on our fellow citizens to act with dignity, civility and respect for one another during this election cycle and beyond,” read the statement in part.
Many Republican politicians, both inside and outside Florida, responded to the incident on Twitter, saying they are thankful no one was hurt.
“Law Enforcement has been notified. Be careful tough guys who you play with!” said President Donald Trump in a Saturday night tweet.