Utah independent U.S. Senate hopeful Evan McMullin and his wife were allegedly threatened at gunpoint by a driver who followed their vehicle after an April campaign event, according to court documents obtained Saturday by The Salt Lake Tribune.
The couple were on their way home from the April 10 campaign event in southern Utah when they were “followed, chased and threatened at gunpoint” by the 44-year-old man, who was driving a “large pickup truck,” the documents state.
The man was charged in Highland, Utah, that month with a misdemeanor count of threatening with a dangerous weapon and an infraction of disorderly conduct. The Salt Lake Tribune generally doesn’t name defendants charged with misdemeanor crimes.
According to a victim impact statement that McMullin filed Wednesday, which is sealed in court records but was provided Saturday to The Tribune, the man “aggressively followed” McMullin and his wife while they were driving home to Utah County, at one point forcing the couple’s car into oncoming traffic.
The man then pulled alongside the couple’s car and brandished a firearm, “pointing it toward us in a threatening way,” McMullin wrote in the impact statement.
“My wife and I did nothing to threaten, harm, or provoke [the man] throughout this incident,” McMullin wrote. “We simply drove the natural route towards our home, called 911 when we realized we were being followed, and attempted to flee when it was clear that we were in danger.”
In the impact statement, McMullin said that the man charged in this case “served for years as a military police officer” and in other law enforcement roles. McMullin also wrote that his campaign has taken additional security precautions due to the man’s “willingness to resort to violence as a manner of handling conflicts.”
“He knows better than to have done what he did — or at least should know better,” McMullin wrote, adding that the man “must have been well aware of the danger posed by his actions and of their criminality that night yet he took them anyway.”
On Thursday, McMullin filed a motion to unseal his impact statement, which would make it available to the public. The motion pointed to “the nature of this crime” and McMullin’s public profile as a Senate candidate and previous U.S. presidential candidate.
“The only interests in keeping the record private are McMullin’s own rights to privacy, which McMullin wishes to waive,” the motion states. A judge had not ruled on that motion as of Saturday.
The defendant entered pleas of not guilty to both charges during a July court hearing, during which McMullin identified him to a judge as the man who threatened him and his wife, court records state.
The candidate has previously not spoken publicly about the ordeal, but in a statement sent to The Tribune on Saturday, McMullin said: “He put my life and the life of my wife at risk and I am cooperating fully with law enforcement authorities who have charged him with related crimes.”
A court hearing in the case is slated for Sept. 2.
— Tribune staff writer Bryan Schott contributed to this report.