Florida man charged with driving van into GOP voter tent dislikes Trump, felt he had to 'take a stand,' police say

A Jacksonville, Florida, man jailed after crashing a minivan through a tent of Republican volunteers in a Walmart parking lot told investigators he does not like President Donald Trump and that he felt “someone had to take a stand,” according to his arrest report. 

Gregory William Loel Timm, 27, remains jailed on $500,000 bail on two counts of aggravated assault on a person 65 years old or older, plus criminal mischief and driving with a suspended license, jail records show.

Timm is accused of deliberately crashing his GMC Safari into a tent of Republican volunteers who were registering voters outside the Jacksonsillve Walmart on Saturday, local law enforcement said. No one was struck by the van.

The incident drew national attention and outraged lawmakers.

In response to Timm’s arrest, Trump issued a warning on Twitter, saying, “Be careful tough guys who you play with!” 

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., tweeted it was “a politically motivated attack.” And local GOP leaders joined Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Monday to further condemn what happened.

“You should not have to fear physical injury or worse to express political beliefs in America,” said GOP Duval County Chairman Dean Black. “Nowhere in our country, nowhere in our city should anyone fear for their physical health because of their political views and their political activities.” 

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The Duval County Democratic Party also condemned what it called a “cowardly act of violence.” 

“No one’s life should be placed in danger for exercising their first amendment rights,” the group said on Twitter. “We call on our fellow citizens to act with dignity, civility and respect for one another during this election cycle and beyond.” 

The arrest report released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the volunteers were working just before 3 p.m. EST when someone began driving a van slowly toward them waving. A volunteer walked up to the driver’s side window to talk with the suspect, as another stood on the passenger side.

A less-redacted version of the report – that was first made public by the Republican Party of Duval County – was later released by the clerk of court’s office.

The original arrest report released by the Sheriff’s Office had most of the police interview with Timm redacted, citing a Florida statute that protects certain investigative information.

In the lesser-redacted version, Timm said he went to Walmart to get some food and cigarettes, then noticed the tent in the parking lot and parked near it.

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“The suspect advised that he does not like President Trump” and said, “someone had to take a stand,” the updated version of the arrest report revealed. 

When detectives spoke to him, he showed them videos he had taken “prior to driving into the tent,” the report said.

A Republican voter registration tent lays on its side in a shopping center parking lot after a man drove a van through it in Jacksonville, Florida, Feb. 8, 2020.

“The suspect then showed another video to us of him driving toward the tent with the victims standing in front,” the report said. “The suspect was upset that the video ended before ‘the good part’ as he described it.”

The video stopped prior to the impact with the tent, although it showed people standing in front of it “so he could go run everything over,” the report said.

According to the report, the van accelerated toward the volunteers and the tent, with the two people jumping out of the way as it plowed into chairs and tables inside. The suspect got out, took his cellphone out, then made a rude gesture before driving off.

None of the half-dozen volunteers were injured, but the Sheriff’s Office described them as extremely shaken up. One volunteer had a cellphone image of the departing van, then a tip led detectives to Timms’ home Sunday, which is located just over a mile away from the Walmart where the incident occurred. 

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Timm is affiliated with the Jacksonville branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, according to the report. A public defender has been assigned to his case, with Timm’s arraignment set for March 3, according to court records.

After the local party office released the less redacted report, the national and local arms of the Republican Party released new statements in response to Timm’s comments

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Timm’s statement “makes it clear that Saturday was a deliberate and politically motivated attack on supporters of President Trump,” adding it was “completely reprehensible and unacceptable.”

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