Armed Trump supporter told to leave NC voting site. He was arrested when he came back.

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Listen to our daily briefing:

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Alexa | Google Assistant | More options

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police charged an armed supporter of President Donald Trump with trespassing Tuesday when he returned to a Charlotte polling site after being ordered to leave when voters said they felt intimidated by his presence.

Justin Dunn, a former Charlotte City Council candidate, was wearing a holstered semi-automatic pistol, camouflage, boots and a Trump hat outside the Oasis Shrine Temple voting site in University City, the Charlotte Observer previously reported.

On Wednesday, CMPD confirmed to the Observer that Dunn faced a new trespass charge after once again returning to the voting site on Tuesday night, apparently to do a television interview.

Armed Trump supporter arrested at NC voting site faces new charges, police say

North Carolina is one of five battleground states that allows guns at polling places unless the voting is taking place at a building that bans firearms, such as a church or a school.

But state law gives polling officials wide berth “to enforce peace and good order” during voting, including stopping “improper practices and attempts to obstruct, intimidate, or interfere with any person in registering or voting.”

Along those lines, polling managers can ask voters not to wear guns at voting sites that otherwise do not prohibit firearms if other voters feel intimidated, the Raleigh News & Observer has reported.

Witnesses say the 36-year-old Dunn had flustered voters and cut short a Democratic press event by circling outside the precinct, which had voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The precinct is also Dunn’s polling place, voter registration records show.

After voting Tuesday morning, Dunn continued to “loiter” in the area, police said in a statement Tuesday. When officers arrived around 10:40 a.m., a precinct official asked Dunn to leave and banned him from the site, according to CMPD. In its statement, the police department said Dunn was lawfully carrying the gun.

Dunn left but later returned, taking a seat in a folding chair not far from the entrance to the polling site with his gun on his hip and his dog.

Dunn told Observer reporter Theoden Janes that he had been verbally accosted Tuesday morning by people in Black Lives Matter T-shirts. He said he left the voting site when ordered to but decided to come back because he had been harassed by onlookers and “threatened with police force.”

While talking with Janes, Dunn refused to give his last name, saying, “I don’t know who’s going to be watching these videos. And ... I fear for my life, ‘cause there are lists out there of people like me who support Trump.”

As Dunn talked with Janes, five police officers approached him and took him away in handcuffs. Dunn was charged with second-degree trespassing, CMPD officials said later.

Witness Sam Spencer, senior advisor to 12th District Rep. Alma Adams’ campaign and her communications director, said Adams was driven away from the site after speaking at the press event when observers noticed Dunn and his handgun.

“Everybody should have the right to go to their polling place to vote and not be intimidated,” Spencer said. “It was clear in my mind there was no civic reason for him to linger around a polling place walking his dog and taking 40 minutes to vote.”

Timothy Carmichael Sr., a U.S. Navy veteran who was at the precinct as a poll watcher, said Dunn’s presence and visible weapon prompted him and several others to go to their cars to get their own firearms “because we can’t take no chances.”

Dunn said he supports the president, but his party affiliation has been fluid. His most recent data from the state Board of Elections shows him registered as a Democrat who voted in the Democratic primary in March.

In 2016, Dunn was a Republican candidate for N.C. House from District 101 and lost to Democrat Beverly Earle. The year before, he ran unsuccessfully for Charlotte City Council, again as a Republican, according to the Charlotte Observer’s archives.

Court records obtained Tuesday by the Observer show Dunn pleaded guilty to a 2009 charge in Mecklenburg County for driving while his license was revoked.

Two years before, public records show, he’d been charged and convicted for driving while impaired. A criminal history records search in North Carolina showed no prior charges related to guns or trespassing.

County elections board spokeswoman Kristin Mavromatis said officials investigated but were called by the man in question himself.

“He of course is claiming that he was the one being intimidated,” Mavromatis said. “It’s a he-said, she-said. He was walking around outside, but at this point it’s been over for hours.”

Bruce Henderson and Anna Douglas contributed.