A British man has told investigators he wanted to kill Donald Trump after being arrested at a campaign rally for trying to grab an officer’s gun.
Court papers detail how Michael Sandford, 19, approached a police officer at the event in Las Vegas on Saturday, saying he wanted the Republican candidate’s autograph .
“Sandford then attempted to seize the sidearm of Officer Jacob by grabbing the holster and handle of the firearm with both hands,” according to court documents, which also said Mr Sandford had earlier visited a gun range in order to learn how to shoot.
He appeared in court on Monday to face a charge of “an act of violence on restricted grounds”, and faces more than 10 years in prison and a $250,000 (£170,000) fine if convicted.
He was denied bail during a brief hearing. The court was told he was unemployed, living out of his car and in the US illegally.
A court-appointed lawyer said he had autism and had attempted suicide in the past.
Mr Trump’s rallies have frequently attracted angry protests and occasional violence. Saturday’s event at the Treasure Island Casino seemed typical, with reporters describing how a protester had been led out of the event.
Mr Sandford, who was identified by his British driver’s licence, later told officers he had been living in the US for about 18 months, first in New Jersey and then California.
From there he said he travelled to Las Vegas on Thursday and had visited the Battlefield Vegas gun range, where he fired 20 rounds from a Glock 9mm pistol.
“Sandford claimed this was the first time he had ever fired a gun,” read the complaint.
When asked why he had tried to grab the weapon from the officer, he replied simply: “To shoot and kill Trump.”
About 1,500 people attended the rally, which was held in the Mystere Theater inside the Treasure Island Casino. Attendees had to pass through metal detectors manned by Secret Service, police and casino security officials.
If his attempt failed, he said he planned to travel to Phoenix, Arizona, for another rally there.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing assistance following an arrest of a British national in Las Vegas.”
Earlier in the day it emerged that Mr Trump had fired Corey Lewandowski, the controversial campaign manager who had helped him win the Republican party nomination.
It is the latest shake-up in the campaign as Mr Trump turns his attention to the November election where he will need to broaden his appeal if he is to defeat Hillary Clinton’s well-organised machine.