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Man Accused of Making Violent Threats at Protest Against Arizona Senator

2 minute read

Two protesters were arrested for trespassing on Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s office in Tucson Thursday, with one also facing an additional charge of threats and intimidation after allegedly referencing the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

The protesters were identified by Pima County Sheriff’s Office as 59-year-old Mark Pritchard and 70-year-old Patrick Diehl.

Protesters had gathered outside Flake’s office Thursday morning. The Pima County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an e-mail to TIME that staffers working at Flake’s office had told them a protester, later identified as Pritchard, had made a comment relating to the shooting of Scalise that had caused them to call the Sheriff’s office and lock their doors.

An aide for a Flake spokesman told TIME that in the exchange that prompted the call, the protester said, “you know how liberals are going to solve the Republican problem?” When the staffer said no, the protester replied, “they are going to get better aim. The last guy tried but he needed better aim. We will get better aim.”

Scalise was shot on June 14 when a gunman, later identified as James Hodgkinson, opened fire on a Republican practice for a congressional baseball game, and was in critical condition after sustaining damage to his internal organs. He was readmitted into the intensive care unit July 5. Flake was at that practice with Scalise and was the one who told Scalise’s wife about the shooting.

Pritchard was initially arrested for trespassing, and was charged with threat and intimidation after an additional review of his comments.

Diehl was charged with trespassing when he tried to push himself inside after a staffer opened the door to hand out information, according to the sheriff’s office. The incident has now been referred to the Capitol Police.

The arrests come one day after five people were cited for trespassing at Flake’s Phoenix office after they refused to leave the office building at the end of the day. Phoenix police told TIME the protesters were not arrested, just cited and released.

With reporting by Sarina Finkelstein

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Write to Alana Abramson at Alana.Abramson@time.com