NEW JERSEY (FOX 5 NY) - A 19-year-old man who was arrested Saturday at a rally for Donald Trump in Las Vegas wanted to assassinate the presidential contender, according to federal authorities.
Michael Steven Sandford told investigators he had been living in Hoboken, New Jersey for the past year and a half and had driven his BMW cross-country with the intent of killing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, according to a federal complaint.
The complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Nevada charges Sandford with an act of violence on restricted grounds.
Heather Fraley, his assigned public defender, said Sandford appeared to be competent. She said he hadn't been diagnosed with a mental illness but that he has autism and previously attempted suicide. He doesn't have a job.
Sandford reportedly bragged online about having three fighting robots and even posed with one machine that has a giant axe capable of cutting through steel, according to the NY Daily News.
Sandford allegedly approached a Las Vegas police officer inside the Mystere Theater at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino tried to take the officer's service weapon.
According to a statement released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Sandford began a conversation with the officer under the pretense that he was seeking an autograph.
He was quickly taken into custody and handed over to the United States Secret Service.
Sandford was denied bail during a court appearance later in the day. He has not entered a plea.
Fraley argued that Sandford should go to a halfway house because he didn't have a criminal history, but the judge said he should stay in detention ahead of a July 5 court date.
Sandford told officers he was convinced he would die in the assassination attempt. He said he also reserved a ticket for a Trump rally in Phoenix, scheduled for later Saturday, as a backup plan.
The criminal complaint said Sandford was arrested after grabbing the handle of an officer's gun while trying to remove it from a holster.
Sandford told authorities that he went to the Battlefield Vegas shooting range the day before the rally and fired 20 rounds from a 9mm Glock pistol to learn how to use it.
Police detectives who visited the range spoke with an employee who confirmed that he provided Sandford shooting lessons, according to the complaint signed by Secret Service Special Agent Joseph Hall.
The arrest happened relatively quietly at a campaign stop seen as peaceful compared to the mayhem at the presumptive Republican nominee's recent events in San Jose, California, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
With the Associated Press