An Ohio man who rushed the stage at a Donald Trump rally pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to a charge of illegally entering a restricted area.
Fairborn resident Thomas DiMassimo, 22, is accused of jumping a barricade and charging at the Republican presidential candidate March 12 at a Dayton International Airport hangar.
His attorney, Jon Paul Rion, said the Wright State University student was trying only to ensure that his political views were heard and didn't have ill intentions toward a particular person.
Video from the rally shows that DiMassimo touched the stage where Trump was speaking as Secret Service agents and other security converged.
DiMassimo was arrested and charged with the misdemeanor count, which carries a potential sentence of up to a year in prison, plus possible fines. He was ordered released Friday on certain conditions, including that he not have dangerous weapons and remain in the area, with an exception granted for out-of-state travel this weekend.
A top federal prosecutor for southern Ohio told the Dayton Daily News that DiMassimo's case is important in the context of this presidential campaign season.
"Passions are high in this election," said Benjamin Glassman, acting U.S. attorney for the region. Regardless of whether people attend political events to support a candidate or to protest, it's important that everyone is safe, he said.
Clashes between supporters and protesters have occurred repeatedly at rallies for Trump, who has angered some with his fiery rhetoric over building a wall along the Mexican border and calling for a stop to all non-citizen Muslims entering the United States. The Dayton airport rally was Trump's first after well-organized students succeeded in keeping him from taking the stage for an event in Chicago.
A man arrested after trying to jump on the stage at Republican Donald Trump's campaign rally in Dayton reportedly told police he planned to grab the microphone and yell that Trump is a racist but didn't intend to hurt anyone.
The Dayton Daily News reports that it has obtained a police report that says 22-year-old Thomas DiMassimo told officers that he'd given his car keys to his girlfriend at Saturday's rally anticipating that he'd be arrested. DiMassimo, of Fairborn, was charged with misdemeanor inducing panic and disorderly conduct. He was released on bail.
DiMassimo, an acting student with Wright State University's theater program, couldn't be reached for comment. It's unclear if he has an attorney.
Authorities in Ohio have identified the man arrested and charged with rushing the stage at a Donald Trump campaign rally.
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer says Thomas Dimassimo of Fairborn, Ohio, has been charged with inducing panic and disorderly conduct.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump was briefly surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents on stage at a campaign rally in Ohio on Saturday, after someone tried to rush the stage as he delivered a speech in which he blasted protesters for forcing him to cancel an event the previous evening in Chicago.
Late into his speech at an airport hangar outside of Dayton, Trump appeared to jolt after hearing something in the audience standing behind his right shoulder.
A group of Secret Service agents quickly rushed on stage and briefly formed a protective ring around the billionaire businessman. Almost as quickly, they left the stage and allowed him to continue his speech.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said a man had attempted attempted "to breach the secure buffer." He was removed "rapidly and professionally," she said in a statement.
Matt Miller, a Trump supporter who owns a body shop in Dayton, said he was standing near the podium when the agents took to the stage to protect Trump.
"We just saw a kid that tried to rush the stage. The Secret Service tackled him right away," Miller said.
Trump, who was able to finish this speech without incident after the brief interruption, said from the stage:
"Thank you for the warning. I was ready for 'em, but it's much better if the cops do it, don't we agree?"
The incident outside Dayton came less than 24 hours after Trump called off a rally in Chicago, after protesters he called "professionally staged wise guys" filled the arena where he was scheduled to speak. He said he was worried his backers would have gotten hurt.
"We would've had a problem like you wouldn't have believed," he said.
The announcement that Trump would postpone the Friday night rally led a large portion of the crowd inside the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion to break out into raucous cheers. Many rushed onto the floor, jumping up and down with their arms up in the air to celebrate.
Several said afterward they had organized in advance with the intent of keeping Trump from speaking.