British man arrested in Vegas for trying to 'kill' Donald Trump with policeman's gun
Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30
A British teenager arrested at a Donald Trump rally after going for a police officer’s gun told investigators he wanted to kill the US presidential hopeful.
Michael Sandford (19) tried to grab the weapon from the officer after asking for the Republican candidate’s autograph at a Las Vegas casino.
The teenager told investigators he had been planning the assassination for a year, including spending time on a firing range in recent days, and was convinced he would die in the attempt.
Sandford, who was carrying a UK driver’s licence, is expected to appear in a US court in Nevada charged with an act of violence.
The British national had lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, for around 18 months and had driven to San Bernardino in California before travelling to Las Vegas on Thursday.
The teenager told police he visited the Battlefield Vegas shooting range on Friday where he fired off 20 rounds from a 9mm Glock pistol to learn how to use it.
On Saturday he went to the Treasure Island Casino where Trump addressed a rally of 1,500 people amid tight security.
After approaching a police officer and asking for an autograph he grabbed the handle of the officer’s gun.
Sandford also told investigators he had a ticket for a Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, for later on Saturday as a back-up.
A UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing assistance following an arrest of a British national in Las Vegas.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump parted ways yesterday with Corey Lewandowski, his controversial campaign manager, reportedly at the insistence of his children.
Mr Lewandowski had steered the campaign for the past year as it accumulated controversies and primary election victories and favoured a strategy described as “let Trump be Trump”.
He clashed with Paul Manafort, the veteran Republican strategist hired to professionalise the campaign ahead of the presidential election.
With Hillary Clinton’s push for the White House running rings around Mr Trump’s in terms of fundraising and organisation, Mr Lewandowski played an increasingly peripheral role.
Mr Manafort convinced Mr Trump to read speeches from an autocue and inject policy into what has always been a personality-led candidacy, while reassuring donors and party grandees that the candidate would “evolve”.
Having apparently won the internal power struggle, Mr Manafort is expected to take full control of the campaign.
Mr Lewandowski’s sudden exit comes three months after he was charged with battery for grabbing a reporter who was attempting to question Mr Trump.
The charges were subsequently dropped, but not before Mr Trump came under pressure to fire his campaign manager.
The news was welcomed by some in Mr Trump’s inner circle. Michael Caputo, New York campaign director, tweeted: “Ding dong the witch is dead!”
Mr Trump reportedly made the decision to remove Mr Lewandowski after a meeting with his children, who have taken active roles in the campaign.
Ivanka Trump, his daughter, went so far as to say she would step back from assisting further if Mr Lewandowski was not fired, according to CNN.
Mr Lewandowski said he did not know why he had been sacked and that he had a “great relationship” with Mr Manafort and Mr Trump’s children.