FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A 78-year-old man who authorities believe was seen in a now-viral video punching a protester at Donald Trump’s Fayetteville rally Wednesday has been charged by authorities.
The video, shown below in a tweet by New York Daily News writer Shaun King, appears to show a Donald Trump supporter punching a protester as he’s being escorted out by security at the Trump rally held at the Crown Coliseum.
John McGraw, 78, of Linden, has been charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct for his involvement in the incident.
At the end of the video, Rakeem Jones is seen being tackled to the ground and arrested by security.
McGraw defended his actions in a video posted by Inside Edition.
“He deserved it,” McGraw said of Jones. “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”
McGraw showed little remorse for attacking Jones.
“You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out of that big mouth,” McGraw said. “Number one, we don’t know if he’s ISIS. We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American.”
Jones said the moment seemed surreal and happened quickly.
Jones was the first of nearly 30 protesters kicked out of the Trump rally. Jones said he and a diverse group of friends went just to observe and had no plans to protest.
“I saw a guy come from beside me, because I looked behind me,and then when I turned around he elbowed me,” Jones said.
Jones said he was more upset about the police response.
Sgt. Sean Swain, of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, said during the altercation, the deputies were focused on getting up the stairs. The department is investigating.
Swain said from the video he has seen, “You can’t tell where any of the deputies are looking.”
Swain said there was “a miscommunication at the top of the stairs as to what’s going on.” He said Jones tripped at the top of the stairs, but a deputy thought he had assaulted an officer.
Jones said he was upset at hearing Trump say “Go home to mom” as he was leaving.
Jones said his mother died eight years ago.
“I get real offended by that, even with regular people,” he said.
Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler said in a statement,
No one should be subjected to such a cowardly, unprovoked act as that committed by McGraw. Regardless of political affiliation, speech, race, national origin, color, gender, bad reputation, prior acts, or political demonstration, no other citizen has the right to assault another person or to act in such a way as this defendant did. I hope that the courts will handle this matter with the appropriate severity for McGraw’s severe and gross violation of this victim’s rights.”
After his arrest, McGraw was taken before a magistrate who set his bond at $2,500 secured.
His next court date is April 6.