(RENO, Nev.) — The man whose protest at a Donald Trump rally in Nevada led the Secret Service to rush the GOP nominee offstage said he went to the event “with a simple sign” to “voice my displeasure with the nominee that the party picked.”
Austyn Crites, who said he is a registered Republican, said in an interview Sunday with ABC News’ Good Morning America that he held up a sign proclaiming “Republicans Against Trump” at the rally in Reno on Saturday.
After he raised the sign, “of course there was the booing going on around me,” Crites told GMA. “Then a couple of guys started trying to violently rip the sign out of my hand, grabbing my arm, grabbing the sign … then all of a sudden I just got tackled by several people at once … eventually the police came, and I was thankful for that.”
At some point, someone in the crowd apparently yelled “gun,” according to a statement by the Secret Service, whose officers then rushed Trump offstage.
“Immediately in front of the stage, an unidentified individual shouted ‘gun,'” the statement said. “Secret Service agents and Reno police officers immediately apprehended the subject. Upon a thorough search of the subject and the surrounding area, no weapon was found.”
Crites, a Nevada resident, refuted claims that he went to the Trump rally as “a plant” for the Clinton campaign.
“I’m an independent guy just doing what I believe is right,” he said. He said he decided to go to the rally after receiving a last-minute email announcing the event.
“I just feel very strongly that this guy’s dangerous for the country and I want to show people that there are other Republicans in Nevada and elsewhere who just do not support him,” Crites said.
Crites said he has no relationship the Clinton campaign, but said he has donated money to the campaign and done some door-to-door canvassing recently “because I think Trump is a disaster for the country.” He said he has already voted for Clinton in early voting.
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