Austyn Crites, a self-declared Republican who sparked a commotion at a Donald Trump rally in Reno, Nevada, said he was holding a sign reading: “Republicans against Trump.”
Crites told The Guardian that he was holding up the sign when Trump supporters took him to the ground. As that was happening, Trump himself was rushed off stage by Secret Service agents.
Crites, 33, said he was punched and kicked when the crowd grabbed him.
Apparently, some people shouted that a person in the crowd was holding a gun, prompting the Secret Service to rush Trump from the stage.
Man at heart of Trump scare. Austyn Crites, 33, “registered Republican” and “business guy” from Reno who’s been campaigning for Mrs Clinton. pic.twitter.com/wbHPRT4oOD
— James Cook (@BBCJamesCook) November 6, 2016
“Nobody said it was going to be easy but we will never be stopped. We will never be stopped,” Trump said after he returned to the stage.
In a statement, the Secret Service noted that no gun was located. Crites was released from custody. “Immediately in front of the stage, an unidentified individual shouted ‘gun.’ Secret Service agents and Reno Police Officers immediately apprehended the subject,” the Secret Service stated.
“Upon a thorough search of the subject and the surrounding area, no weapon was found,” the statement read.
According to NBC News, the man who was removed appeared to be handcuffed.
“I had a sign that said ‘Republicans against Trump.’ It is a sign that you can just print off online,” he told the Guardian.
“All of a sudden, because they couldn’t grab the sign, or whatever happened, bam, I get tackled by all these people,” Crites added to NBC News. “And somebody yells something about a gun, and so that’s when things really got out of hand,” he added.
Rally attendees said they heard someone yell he had a gun.
“We were all very interested in what Mr. Trump had to say and a guy in a red shirt just rushed right next to me, screaming, ‘There is a guy with a gun,'” Shimon Cohen told CNN, adding that he didn’t see a gun.
Another person, Milton Zerman, told the network he “was watching Trump speak and I heard someone scream, ‘This guy has a gun,’ so I looked toward the guy he was talking about. It didn’t look to me that he had a gun—or at least I didn’t see a gun—but people were screaming that he did have a gun and immediately after that Trump was taken off stage.”
“Everyone starts dispersing, I hear people saying, ‘Let’s get out of here, it’s not going to be good,’ but I just took that opportunity to get closer to the front because it seemed like the police officers had it under control.”
Some people noted that the name “Austyn Crites” appears at least six times in recent emails leaked by WikiLeaks.
— Steve Hirsch (@Stevenwhirsch99) November 6, 2016
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Saturday that Crites was either a “Democratic plant or [an] operative.”