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RENO, Nev. — Donald Trump was abruptly brought off the stage by Secret Service in the middle of a Saturday night rally when an unidentified man apparently tried to rush the stage.
Multiple witnesses near the front of the stage told reporters that they believed that the man had a gun, but the Secret Service said no weapon was found.
Trump had paused his stump speech to call out a protester when several Secret Service agents suddenly rushed to him and grabbed him off the stage. Chaos ensued as the crowd began to hurry away from the stage. Some moved back toward a barricaded area where the press corps was set up and began screaming at them.
“Why don’t you cover this!” a man screamed as reporters stood on their chairs with cameras, trying to get a better look. “Liars!”
As rally attendees began to fearfully race for the exits, Trump aides rushed to the candidate’s traveling press corps and ordered them to immediately head to the motorcade.
Reporters ran through the crowd. Heavily armed police officers with machine guns were seen escorting a man backstage. They declined to comment to reporters about the incident.
Trump’s traveling press corps initially rushed toward the motorcade, amid word from the campaign that the candidate would not return to the stage. But about seven minutes after the incident began, Trump’s entrance song — “God Bless the USA” — suddenly boomed throughout the convention hall and reporters hurried back in the room, where the candidate retook the stage.
“No one ever said it would be easy for us,” Trump said, thanking the Secret Service. And then he returned to his usual stump speech.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 6, 2016
After the rally, Trump released a statement thanking law enforcement officers. “I also want to thank the many thousands of people present for their unwavering and unbelievable support. Nothing will stop us — we will make America great again!” he said.
The Guardian interviewed the man who sparked the commotion. The man, who identified himself as Austyn Crites, said he was simply making his way through the crowd so he could raise his “Republicans against Trump” sign. The crowd then fiercely attacked him, he said.
This was not the first time Secret Service have rushed to protect the Republican nominee at a campaign rally. In March, Trump was surrounded by agents after a man suddenly headed to the stage at an event in Ohio. The man, 22-year-old Thomas Dimassimo, was blocked before he ever reached Trump and was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Trump claimed the man was tied to ISIS, but experts dismissed the assertion.