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Incident ALGOP claimed as political violence was merely road rage, police say

Athens Police said neither victim nor witness implied any political motivation.

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The Alabama Republican Party claimed Monday that a volunteer for former President Donald Trump was assaulted after leaving a local Trump headquarters in an “apparent politically motivated attack.”

But Athens Police Capt. Anthony Presnell released a statement Tuesday that said the incident in the local Lowe’s parking lot was simply a matter of road rage, and neither victim nor witness implied any political motivation.

ALGOP’s release revealed Tara Johnson as the victim of the attack and described the incident by stating that “the attacker grabbed Johnson by the hair and repeatedly punched her in the face and slammed her head against the door of her truck.”

“The attack on Tara Johnson is a disgraceful act of violence that has no place in our society. Having served alongside Tara on the Limestone County Executive Committee for many years, this is very personal to me,” said John Wahl, chair of the Alabama Republican Party. “Tara is not just a volunteer; she is a kind and generous person who is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. We are heartbroken and outraged by this senseless act of violence against her.”

Presnell didn’t release names in his explanation, but explained that “Driver No. 1” allegedly ran a stop sign when entering the Lowe’s parking lot from a side street, leading “Driver No. 2” to honk and flash their lights at them. When Driver No. 2 pulled over and the passenger stood outside the vehicle, Driver No. 1 apparently came back around and allegedly cursed at the passenger and grabbed her shirt. Presnell said the passenger told police she responded by striking Driver No. 1.

Lowe’s surveillance footage apparently captured the scene, and Wahl told WAAY31 that he wants to see that video footage as well as body camera footage before he retracts anything the party put out about this being a politically motivated attack.

In the initial press release, Wahl used the incident to call on “the Democratic Party and mainstream media to cease their inflammatory rhetoric, which incites individuals against Donald Trump and his supporters.”

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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