LAS VEGAS (AP) – A British man who authorities say tried to grab a police officer’s gun to shoot presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a Las Vegas campaign rally was indicted Wednesday on federal criminal charges that, together, could get him up to 30 years in prison.
A grand jury on Wednesday charged Michael Steven Sandford, 20, with disrupting an official function and two firearm possession counts, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.
Sandford’s arraignment was scheduled July 6 in Las Vegas. He remained in federal custody, and his lawyer didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment.
Federal agents say Sandford told them he drove to Las Vegas from San Bernardino, California, with a plan to kill Trump, and went to a Las Vegas gun range to learn to shoot the day before Trump appeared at the Treasure Island hotel-casino on June 18.
The U.S. Secret Service says Sandford approached a Las Vegas police officer at the Trump campaign stop at the 1,500-seat Mystere Theatre, said he wanted Trump’s autograph, then grabbed for the officer’s gun.
Sandford, who was unemployed, is accused of overstaying his U.S. entry visa by about nine months. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement lodged a detainer against him to take action on the immigration violation if he’s released from jail.
Sandford’s father, Paul Davey of Havant, England, told the British newspaper Portsmouth News his son was polite and peaceful and must have been under the influence of someone else. He said his son moved to New Jersey a year and a half ago to be with a girlfriend. He called his son’s arrest an absolute shock.
Others who knew Sandford told The Associated Press that he was intelligent and that signs of his Asperger’s syndrome had become more obvious as he got older.
He had been treated in the past for obsessive compulsive disorder and anorexia, and was reported to be living out of his car before his arrest, according to attorneys and accounts from a family friend in England.
U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley Jr. acknowledged during Sandford’s first court appearance in Las Vegas that Sandford’s mental health may be an issue.
Sandford’s appointed lawyer, Heather Fraley, said Sandford previously attempted suicide and once ran away from a hospital in England.
However, Fraley said she believed Sandford is competent for trial.