THE protester who sparked fears Donald Trump was about to be assassinated at a rally last night has revealed he was holding nothing but a sign.
Austyn Crites has claimed Trump fans kicked and chocked him while the presidential candidate was bundled off stage by his security guards.
There was a frenzy of chaos at the rally in Nevada last night after someone shouted “gun” – despite Crites carrying only a sign.
He told the Guardian: “People started going crazy.
“These people couldn’t grab the sign – they start tackling me, and then just piled on, and someone yelled something about a gun.
“I was yelling down there, ‘There is no gun! I only have a sign! I only have a sign!
“But there were people wrenching on my neck so hard they could have strangled me to death. Other people were grabbing at my balls. Other people were kicking me. It was absolutely nuts.”
Two suited secret service officers pulled the Presidential hopeful away from the microphone and rushing him backstage in Reno, Nevada.
Other secret service agents pinned the man, later identified as Reno-native and registered Republican Austyn Crites, to the floor. Crites, 33, was then manhandled out of the room as heavily-armed police officers flooded into the room. He has since been released.
A Secret Service spokesman later said that after a “thorough” search no gun was found in the venue or on the Crytes.
The 70-year-old was half an hour into a speech when an audience member shouted: “He’s got a gun” and indicated a shaven-headed man in the crowd.
Speaking to The Guardian, Crites said he had worked his way to the front of the crowd to hold up a sign reading “Republicans against Trump” which he had printed off the internet.
The crowd jeered after he raised the sign, Crites said, but then “all of a sudden people next to me are starting to get violent; they’re grabbing at my arm, trying to rip the sign out of my hand.”
At that point Crites claims the crowd “piled on” and he heard someone in the crowd shout “something about a gun” after he hit the floor.
Crites described the Republican nominee for the Presidency as “a textbook version of a dictator and a fascist”.
He also said he did not blame the crowd for their actions: “The people who attached me – I’m not blaming them. I’m blaming Donald Trump’s hate rhetoric.”
Austyn Crites was holding a sign saying ‘Republicans against Trump’ when he was manhandled by security staff
Crites has since written on Facebook: “Take what happened tonight as a classic example of dictator incitement of violence – against your own Republican brother with a stupid sign.”
Republican tycoon Trump reappeared at the Reno Convention Center several minutes after Crites had been removed to cheers from fans, declaring: “Nobody said it was going to be easy for us, but we will never ever be stopped.”
But, Trump’s campaign staff highlighted the incident to contrast Trump with his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton on Twitter.
Dan Scavino, social media director for Trump’s campaign retweeted a supporter who wrote: “Hillary (Clinton) ran away from rain today. Trump is back on stage minutes after assassination attempt.”
The GOP nominee began his day in Tampa, Florida, before racing to Wilmington in North Carolina and Reno.
He planned to end the night at a rally in Denver, Colorado.