NOCATEE, Fla. – St. Johns County deputies said they located the young man who punched an older man in the head Saturday morning during a dispute over a defaced Trump flag in the Nocatee area. Deputies said Sunday no charges have been filed in the case.
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, about 10:30 a.m., a 72-year-old asked the man, who appeared to be in his 20s, to remove a flag from his golf cart because it contained profanity.
“The young man then punched the elderly gentleman in the head, knocking him to the ground, before taking off in his golf cart,” deputies wrote in a post on Facebook.
There were children in the area, deputies said. One woman who said she witnessed the incident unfold described the neighborhood as “family-oriented."
The younger man said his actions were in self-defense, telling News4Jax that what the older man told police about the two of them arguing over the profanity on a President Donald Trump sign is true. He said it’s not something he is proud of, but the said he gave the older man warnings before things escalated.
“Violence is against everything I believe in," the younger man said. "I only believe in using violence in pure self-defense. I’m not proud of this. I’m not happy that it happened. I genuinely wish that he did not close that space and swing on me because I did not want to do that. I did not want to put anybody at risk of falling and hitting their head. He was obviously an older man. I knew that it was going to get twisted and misconstrued. I just knew it was a disaster I was just trying to counterprotest peacefully.”
The 72-year-old man, who had visible bruises on his head and arms, told News4Jax he did not seek medical attention.
“I have recovered pretty quickly from this event. When I was first hit, there was a lot of birdies tweeting and so forth,” he said. “It got to be pretty heated. I did not strike him. I did not touch him.”
He told News4Jax he was trying to have a discussion with a counterprotester when he was knocked to the ground.
“I was kind of stuck down there. As I said, I was kind of out of it for a little while. I didn’t blackout, but I did feel disoriented," he said. “I crawled over and I tried to get up on my feet by allowing myself to prop up on the front part of his golf cart. He took off so quickly, I thought he was going to run me over.”
The 72-year-old went on to say his message to the younger man would be: “I think he has to rethink his whole attitude about things. Clearly, this political environment we’re in does not need to resort to violence. In respect of what he said, I did not touch him. If I did anything, it was in a defensive mode.”