A British man who tried to steal a police officer’s gun so that he could shoot Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a June 18 campaign event in Las Vegas pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to two felony counts connected to the incident.
Michael Steven Sandford, 20, entered guilty pleas to one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and one count of impeding and disrupting the orderly conduct of government business and official functions. He faced upwards of 20 years behind bars if convicted at trial, but will likely get two years or less when he’s sentenced in December.
Mr. Sandford, a British national, had overstayed his tourist visa by about 10 months when he was arrested at a Trump rally this summer at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
In a 14-page plea agreement, the Brit admitted he approached a police officer at the event and said he wanted Mr. Trump’s autograph, then reached for the cop’s holster with both hands, attempting to steal his sidearm.
“I tried to take a gun from a policeman to shoot someone with, and I’m pleading guilty,” Mr. Sandford told U.S. District Judge James Mahan during Tuesday’s hearing, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“It is fortunate that no one was harmed in this incident,” prosecuting attorney Daniel Bogden said in a statement Tuesday. “The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer’s attentiveness and quick action prevented the escalation of this crime. The result was that no one was injured.”
Mr. Sandford has not been charged with any crimes against the GOP nominee for president, although prosecutors said previously that the man admitted traveling to the campaign rally from California with the goal of firing at Mr. Trump, and had taken shooting lessons with a rented Glock handgun one day prior to the event.
Family attorney Saimo Chahal said that a psychiatrist had determined that Mr. Sandford was delusional at the time of the incident, and also suffers from seizures, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and autism spectrum disorders.
“Michael was not in control at the time of the events and needs help,” the lawyer told the Associated Press prior to Tuesday’s plea deal being entered in court. “He is desperate to return to the U.K. to be near his family as he has no ties with the U.S.A.”
Mr. Sandford is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 13.