JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 68-year-old Vietnam veteran was beaten Sunday afternoon at a Jacksonville gas station after telling a clerk of the food store that he was going to vote for Donald Trump, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Charlie Daniels said he got into a profanity-laced dispute with a man who, once they were both outside near the gas pumps, pushed Daniels, punched him in the face and kicked him several times.
The man left the scene in an older-model Chevrolet Suburban.
Rescue personnel were called to the Shell station on Edgewood Avenue between Commonwealth Avenue and Beaver Street, but Daniels refused treatment and drove himself home.
Officers said security video shows the confrontation and violence.
Daniels told News4Jax that he was in line to pay for gas and began talking about the upcoming election. The clerk, whom he knew, asked him who he planned to vote for, and Daniels said, "Trump."
The man behind him became irate, using racial slurs and expletives, authorities said. Daniels said the abusive man left the store first, but waited for him outside and picked up where he left off.
"He said, 'Hey, I need to talk to you.' I said, 'Partner, I don’t want to talk to nobody. Look, that stuff is over with. I was just voicing an opinion. So were you,' and I said, 'Come on, let me get some gas,'" Daniels said. "He reached over, grabbed me by (the) arm, turned me around and came down with his left hand. (He) knocked me down, and when I hit the ground, he said, 'What do you think about Trump? Know you white mother (expletive).' And then he started kicking me.”
The store's owner confirmed that there were political remarks exchanged between the two inside the store, but he did not see the violence.
The victim tried to get the license tag number of his attacker's SUV, but was seen and the man came at him again. The tag number was not visible in the surveillance video.
Daniels suffered injures to his face and left arm.
“I can’t move my wrist and I can’t hardly move my fingers," Daniels said.
Daniels defends his support of Trump.
"First of all, I’m a Vietnam vet and I’d like to see us the country get back on straight and normal and get our military back to where it used to be," Daniels said. "He said, 'I don’t give a (expletive) about you being a vet.'"
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the attacker was described as a 25- to 35-year-old black man, at least 6 feet tall and weighing 210 to 230 pounds, with long dreadlocks and a beard.
“I hope he goes to jail. I want him to make restitution for all my injuries and the pain I’m going through right now," Daniels said. "I don’t see why it’s not a hate crime with all the words he was saying. It was all about me being a white man and supporting Trump. If that’s not hate, then I don’t know what is."
Anyone who witnessed the beating or has information that could help police identify the driver of the Suburban is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.