RENO, Nevada (REUTERS, AFP) – White House candidate Donald Trump was bundled off stage by security officers Saturday (Nov 5) after an apparently false gun scare during a campaign appearance.
US media cited law enforcement sources reporting that no gun had been found after a cry of alarm in the crowd, and Trump swiftly resumed his speech in Reno, Nevada.
The dramatic scene took place just three days before Tuesday’s election, as Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton swept across states that could prove decisive in the vote.
The false alarm came after someone in the crowd shouted “gun” during scuffles with a man who held up a ‘Republicans against Trump’ sign.
Two security agents seized Trump by the shoulders and hustled him backstage as police officers swarmed over a man in the front of the crowd and held him down and searched him before escorting him away with his hands behind his back.
The 70-year-old Republican tycoon reappeared just minutes after being led away amid cheers from the crowd, declaring: “Nobody said it was going to be easy for us, but we will never be stopped, never ever be stopped.
“I want to thank the Secret Service. These guys are fantastic. They don’t get enough credit. They don’t get enough credit. They are amazing people.”
The candidate appeared unrattled and spoke with his usual self-confidence, finishing his planned remarks and accepting applause before returning to his campaign plane safely.
“I would like to thank the United States Secret Service and the law enforcement resources in Reno and the state of Nevada for their fast and professional response,” he said in a campaign statement.
Reporters at the venue had earlier cited unnamed local law enforcement sources and witnesses in the crowd as saying there had been a report of a gun among the Trump supporters.
The Secret Service later said the incident erupted when an unidentified individual in front of the stage shouted “gun.”
“Secret Service agents and Reno Police Officers immediately apprehended the subject. Upon a thorough search of the subject and the surrounding area, no weapon was found,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
“A thorough investigation is ongoing at this time by the US Secret Service and the Reno Police Department,” it said.
After being released, the man who was apprehended told CBS News Reno affiliate KTVN-2 that he was a Republican supporter who attended the rally to express his opposition to Trump with the 'Republicans against Trump’ sign. “I came here with this sign expecting boos ... But it was just a sign,” Austyn Crites said.
Crites said when he took it out, the crowd began to attack him, choking and beating him before “someone yelled about a gun.” After being held for a few hours’ questioning and security and background checks, Crites said he was released, and that the police “did their job.”
Crites said he wanted to contrast President Barack Obama’s reaction to a protestor during a rally a few days ago, in which he urged the crowd to respect the protester, with Trump’s, saying he wanted “people to understand” the difference.
“I have nothing against Trump supporters,” Crites told the station. “We are all registered Republicans and support many of the same candidates for local offices. I have serious concern against Trump,” he added.