Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said Monday morning that one of his campaign canvassers “was brutally attacked” in what he later described as a politically motivated assault.
Police are sharing few details of the incident so far, but they have confirmed that someone has been arrested.
In a later tweet and comments during a campaign appearance, Rubio said the canvasser suffered a broken jaw and internal bleeding during the altercation, in Hialeah, Florida.
“We know someone wearing a Rubio shirt and a [Gov. Ron] Yesterday, DeSantis was walking in the neighborhood not far from here when four individuals assaulted him,” Rubio said at a rally in Hialeah on Monday afternoon.
The senator also tweeted graphic photos of what he said were the injuries the man suffered, writing that the victim’s attackers “told him Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood.”
Asked to confirm the incident described by Rubio and share more details, Hialeah police said in a statement that their officers arrested Javier Lopez after responding to a “fight” on Sunday night where they located a 27-year-old victim. years with “multiple bruises”. and a laceration” who had “distributed flyers”.
“Mr. Lopez told the victim that he was not allowed to walk on the sidewalk and distribute flyers in his neighborhood,” police said in their statement. “The victim, in order to avoid confrontation, crossed the street where he was again confronted by Mr. Lopez. During the verbal argument, Mr. Lopez then punched the victim repeatedly in the face and on the head, causing injury.”
Hialeah police did not respond to questions about the flyers the victim was handing out or what the suspect might have said specifically to the victim.
Police also did not say what charge(s) Lopez was being held on or whether he remains in custody.
It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can comment on his behalf.
A local Republican Party official confirmed to ABC News that the injured man was a former Miami-Dade GOP executive committee member.
“The attack on a Republican canvasser is catastrophic, unwarranted and unprecedented. … We demand that the perpetrators be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Kevin Cooper, campaign manager for Miami-Dade Republicans. .
In a statement on social media, Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo Jr. echoed Rubio in decrying what happened: “Free speech is the foundation of our democracy, and cowardly acts like this should be condemned by all, regardless of political affiliation.”
“I spoke to the victim’s family and promised a thorough investigation,” Bovo said.