- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2016

Police charged a 78-year-old North Carolina man with assault after he sucker punched a Trump protester at a Wednesday rally and then bragged that next time, “we might have to kill him.”

John Franklin McGraw was shown on video at a rally for GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump punching the protester as he was being let out by security.

Several witnesses were recording footage when a black protester, Rakeem Jones, was unexpectedly hit in the face by a white attendee while leaving the rally.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office subsequently identified the suspect as Mr. McGraw and arrested him the next day on charges of assault and disorderly after reviewing multiple video clips from the previous night that had been shared online, including one in which he bragged about the assault.

“You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out of that big mouth,” Mr. McGraw told the TV show “Inside Edition” in footage from Wednesday’s rally.

“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Five North Carolina deputies disciplined over actions at Donald Trump rally

Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler called Mr. McGraw’s actions “cowardly” in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Regardless of political affiliation, speech, race, national origin, color, gender, bad reputation, prior acts or political demonstration, no other citizen has the right to assault another person or to act in such a way as this defendant did. I hope that the courts will handle this matter with the appropriate severity for McGraw’s severe and gross violation of this victim’s rights,” he said.

Video footage shows that Mr. Jones was tossed to the ground by law enforcement and briefly detained after being struck in the face.

“The police jumped on me like I was the one swinging,” Mr. Jones told The Washington Post afterwards. “My eye still hurts. It’s just shocking. The shock of it all is starting to set in. It’s like this dude really hit me, and they let him get away with it. I was basically in police custody and got hit.”

Sheriff Butler said Thursday that he has directed the office to conduct an internal investigation “to review the entire incident and the policies and procedures related to it.”

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, told NBC News that the Trump campaign was in no way involved with the incident.

SEE ALSO: Black protester sucker punched at Donald Trump rally

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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