Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Monday morning that one of his campaign representatives “was viciously attacked” in what he later described as a politically motivated attack.
Police share few details about the incident so far, but they did confirm that someone had been arrested.
In a tweet and subsequent comments at a campaign appearance, Rubio said the pollster suffered a broken jaw and internal bleeding in the altercation, in Hialeah, Florida.
“We know that someone with a Rubio shirt and a [Gov. Ron] DeSantis was walking in the neighborhood not far from here yesterday when he was assaulted by four people,” Rubio said at a Hialeah vote rally Monday afternoon.
The senator also tweeted graphic photos of what he said were the injuries the man received, writing that the victim’s assailants “told him Republicans weren’t allowed in his neighborhood.”
Asked to confirm the incident Rubio described and share more details, Hialeah police said in a statement that their officers had arrested Javier Lopez after responding to a “fight” Sunday night where they located a 27-year-old victim with “multiple bruises.” and a laceration” who had been “handing out flyers”.
“Mr. Lopez told the victim that he could not walk on the sidewalk and hand out flyers in his neighborhood,” police said in their statement. “The victim, to avoid the confrontation, crossed the street where he was again confronted by Mr. Lopez. During the verbal dispute, Mr. Lopez then hit the victim several times in the face and head, causing the injuries.” .
Hialeah police did not respond to questions about the flyers the victim was distributing or what the suspect specifically said to the victim.
Police also did not say what charge or charges Lopez is facing or if he remained in custody.
It is not clear if he has retained an attorney who can comment on his behalf.
A local GOP official confirmed to ABC News that the injured man is a former member of the Miami-Dade GOP Executive Committee.
“The attack on a Republican publicist is catastrophic, unnecessary and unprecedented… We demand that the perpetrators be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Kevin Cooper, campaign manager for the Miami-Dade Republicans. .
In a statement on social networks, the mayor of Hialeah, Esteban Bovo Jr., echoed Rubio in denouncing what happened: “Freedom of expression is the foundation of our democracy, and cowardly acts like this must be condemned by all regardless of individual political affiliation.
“I spoke with the victim’s family and promised a thorough investigation,” Bovo said.