Pahrump, Nevada (CNN)A Bernie Sanders supporter was escorted out of a Ted Cruz rally Sunday, after a scuffle that included the man interrupting the Texas senator and another attendee grabbing his throat.
Bernie Sanders supporter clashes with Ted Cruz rally
In a dusty town halfway between Las Vegas and Death Valley, a municipality where prostitution is legal and citizens recently voted to remove most of the Town Board's power, it's a part of the Old West where Cruz hopes to consolidate his party's libertarian wing.
The heckling started in full when Cruz delivered a standard line in his stump speech about repealing Obamacare. Craig Bohannon, a 50-year-old Sanders supporter, took exception to that terminology.
"It was rewritten by Congress," Bohannon shouted. "Not by the President! By Congress!"
Cruz continued with his speech periodically interrupted by Bohannon.
The incident boiled over, when Cruz pivoted back to Obamacare and Bohannon grew louder. This angered one Cruz supporter in particular, and the two men stood face-to-face.
"I need a cop here," yelled Bohannon, who wore white hoops in his earlobes as large as silver dollars and his finger nails painted black. "I need a cop. I want to file charges!"
As a deputy escorted both men from the crowd, Bohannon raised a fist in triumph when the other man appeared to grab his throat. Then, Bohannon's voice suddenly hoarse, he said, "I want charges pressed against this man. So we can put him in handcuffs and stick him in the back of the car."
The other man identified himself to reporters only as Don, age 66. He leaned against the patrol car, still holding his Ted Cruz rally sign. He wore a camouflage polo shirt, an arch-shaped white mustache and a baseball cap printed with stars and stripes. When a deputy questioned him, he gently placed a hand on the deputy's sternum as if to demonstrate how gently he had treated the heckler.
"This guy's screaming in my ear, and I couldn't hear anything," he said.
Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told CNN on Monday she was unaware of the incident.
"I can't comment on a situation that I don't know the details of," she wrote in an email, "but of course we repudiate such behavior, if that is truly what happened."
As deputies conducted their investigation, Bohannon told CNN he used to be a groundskeeper in California before exposure to a toxic herbicide left him with chronic nerve damage. He said he had been on disability since 1992.
Nye County sheriff's deputy Travis Buffi said he would send the case to the district attorney's office and recommend a charge of misdemeanor battery.
"I didn't do anything to be arrested," Don said. "If I was gonna hurt the guy, he was gonna be hurt."
By early Sunday evening, Bohannon had already posted a picture of the incident report on his public Facebook page. "Dude really hurt my back," he wrote. "Does anyone know an attorney? And I am being very serious about this."
Also on Facebook, three nights earlier, he had written this:
"Sunday Ted Cruz will be making the mistake of visiting Pahrump and giving me a ticket to come see him!!! Maybe this time I can get ejected!!!"