JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man who is accused of deliberately driving his van into a tent where voters were being registered by local Republicans told the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office his disapproval of President Donald Trump was a motivating factor, according to an unredacted arrest report obtained by News4Jax.
Gregory Timm, 27, was arrested hours after police said his van plowed through the tent, narrowly missing volunteers who were set up the parking lot of a Walmart Superstore at the corner of Atlantic and Kernan boulevards about 3:50 p.m. on Saturday. He’s accused of two counts of aggravated assault on a person over 65 years old, criminal mischief and driving without a license.
According to JSO investigators who tracked him down, Timm admitted to purposefully driving into the tent because “someone had to take a stand.”
Timm told investigators he saw the registration tent after he went to pick up food and cigarettes at Walmart, according to JSO.
He then showed investigators a video he recorded while driving towards the tent, according to JSO, but the video cut out before he hit the tent. According to the report, Timm said he was upset that the video ended before “the good part.”
Timm said he waited until there were no people in front of the tent before he ran it over although, JSO investigators noted in the report, the video showed people still standing there.
Witnesses said he “flipped off” the people near the tent before driving away.
The suspect told investigators he does not like President Trump and that was part of the reason he wanted to run over the tent, according to the arrest report.
While JSO didn’t immediately say if the action was politically motivated, the incident was quickly condemned as a political attack by both Republican and Democratic leaders in Jacksonville, Florida’s two U.S. Senators, and even President Donald Trump.
Law Enforcement has been notified. Be careful tough guys who you play with! https://t.co/1Pq0hOrzy2— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2020
Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott both called the attack “politically motivated," with Rubio tweeting, “Thanking God that no one was injured.” Scott echoed that in his own tweet, adding," @DuvalGOP will not be silenced or intimidated. They will redouble their efforts to support strong Republicans in NE Florida and around the state!"
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s tweet emphasized that while thankfully no one was hurt, “the hate is toxic and dangerous.”
A clearly emotional chairman of the Duval County Republican Party also condemned the van attack on volunteers during a press conference Monday.
“We are outraged. This is not who we are. This is un-American," Dean Black said. “We are thankful that no one was injured; no one was killed.”
Jacksonville attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters said there is a small likelihood the incident could be reviewed for a potential hate crime element.
“But I suspect him saying I do not like Donald Trump is gonna be used as part of his confession to push harder to have these charges brought against him,” Peoples-Waters said.
She said there could be serious charges that are hard to defend because of the video evidence.
“It does not look good for him,” she said. “And it’s gonna be a hard case to put up a defense. Maybe the claim of mental instability could be an issue.”
Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about the incident Tuesday and accused the media of not paying attention to “growing leftist violence.”
Where is the outraged media? Why are they so silent on this? This would be the number one story in the world right now if it was a Trump supporter doing it to a group of liberals.— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 11, 2020
It’s a disgrace that they don’t even pretend to pay attention to growing leftist violence. https://t.co/Eca6pfip1v