A 19-year-old British man arrested at a weekend Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas tried to grab a police officer’s gun so he could kill the presumptive Republican presidential nominee after planning an assassination for about a year, according to authorities.
U.S. Secret Service agents said Michael Steven Sandford approached a Las Vegas police officer at Saturday’s rally at the Mystere Theater in the Treasure Island Casino to say he wanted Trump’s autograph, but that he then tried to take the weapon.
A complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nevada charges Sandford with an act of violence on restricted grounds. He was denied bail during a court appearance later in the day. His court-appointed attorney said he was living out of his car and in the country illegally after overstaying a visa.
Sanford has not entered a plea.
Federal Magistrate Judge George Foley said in court Monday that Sandford was a potential danger to the community and a flight risk. Sandford wore leg irons and appeared to tremble during the hearing.
Video of his arrest carried by U.S. media show a skinny man with short brown hair and a grey T-shirt being quickly escorted out of the rally by police officers with his hands behind his back.
His arrest comes amid one of the nastiest U.S. presidential campaigns in recent history, dominated by violent rhetoric, with Trump lashing out at Mexicans, Muslims and other groups.
The real estate billionaire enjoys Secret Service protection but also has his own private security detail, which has been accused of using unnecessary force to remove people from events.
A number of protesters have been arrested at his rallies where riot police are deployed in force, and there have been mounting demonstrations during his campaign appearances in recent months.
According to an investigation by the Politico news website, the security team that patrols Trump’s rallies has “at times inflamed the already high tensions around his divisive campaign, rather than defusing them.”
Trump’s critics have also accused his campaign of racial profiling and removing people from events based on their appearance.
Sandford is due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on July 5. He faces more than 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty on the charge of “act of violence on restricted grounds.”