Authorities in California have arrested a man on suspicion of assaulting a congressional candidate with a switchblade.
According to KPIX, the incident took place Sunday afternoon at the Castro Valley Fall Festival.
Republican businessman Rudy Peters, who hopes to unseat Rep. Erick Swalwell, D-Calif., in November’s midterm election, was reportedly the target of a verbal and physical attack near a vendor booth at the event.
Eyewitnesses told local reporters that the suspect, identified by police as 35-year-old Farzad Fazeli, began berating Peters with obscenities and insults directed primarily at the president and the GOP.
At one point in his rant, the suspect allegedly pulled out a switchblade, but it apparently jammed and the blade never came out of its housing.
Police say Fazeli then engaged in a physical altercation with the victim before fleeing on foot. Officers located the suspect a short distance away and recovered a switchblade in his possession.
The suspect was booked into Santa Rita Jail on charges expected to include felony assault, brandishing a weapon, criminal threats and illegally possessing a switchblade.
Peters said he was not physically injured in the attack but described the threat at the time as real and immediate.
“He would have stabbed me,” he said. “I mean, he had it out saying, ‘I’m going to kill you MFer! I’m going to kill you!'”
He said the suspect also threw a coffee cup in his direction prior to reaching for his knife.
“And I jumped around the table,” Peters said. “He throws the coffee cup and misses us. It hits the ground and breaks. So I come out and grab him and wrestle him and throw him down to the ground.”
He said the suspect was “kind of circling” around him as he attempted to retrieve his weapon.
Frederick Remer, an attorney representing Fazeli, said during a preliminary court appearance that he was “afraid for his life and afraid for his health and safety” when he reached for the knife.
The suspect’s mother, Dolly Adams, was also at the festival and told the court that “Peters got physical first,” though she admitted she did not see the incident.
“And I believe that it is alleged that he pulls out a folded knife,” Remer said. “The knife was never opened.”
In response to the incident, both candidates in the race have disavowed violence across the board.
On Sunday, my opponent @PetersCongress was attacked at his campaign booth in Castro Valley. I’m glad to hear Mr. Peters is okay. But it’s NEVER okay to use violence to settle political disagreements (or any disagreement). Fortunately, @ACSOSheriffs arrested the suspect.
— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) September 11, 2018
Peters has taken the additional step of telling his supporters to keep their distance.
“I’ve asked my supporters and followers at open events, I don’t want them around me,” he said. “I don’t want their safety in jeopardy.”
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