Richard Ojeda, a candidate for the District 7 State Senate in West Virginia, was attacked during a cookout he was attending yesterday by a man wielding brass knuckles, reports WSAZ 3. Ojeda was hospitalized by the attack, suffering from multiple lacerations, fractures, and a concussion.
The suspect, identified as Richard Porter, turned himself in to an off-duty police officer six hours after the attack was committed.
Ojeda is running against the district’s current incumbent Art Kirkendoll. Both candidates are Democrats.
Kirkendoll released the following statement, sending his condolences to his opponent and denouncing Porter:
‘I was informed that my opponent was physically assaulted and injured at a political function today. I do not now, nor have I ever, condoned violence. It has no place in our political campaigns or in our communities. Me and my family’s thoughts and prayers are with my opponent and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery.’
Richard Ojeda, a military veteran, told NBC News that he had known Porter since they were children. Reports say he was assaulted after Porter invited him over to his car to place a bumper sticker, stating:
‘That’s all I remember. When I woke up, my head was on a tree stump covered in blood. Everyone was looking at me.’
Porter fled the scene, allegedly attempting to run Ojeda over with his truck, according to witness reports. Witnesses also claim that neighbors came on to the scene to intervene, blocking Porter from hitting the victim and attempting to prevent him from escaping as well. Two neighbors attempting to block Porter’s exit were riding their ATVs, both of which were hit by Porter several times as he fled. None of these neighbors were seriously injured in the process, however.
Although witnesses claim that Porter used his brass knuckles while assaulting Ojeda, Porter himself denies doing so, and West Virginia State Police also deny having any evidence that they were involved in the beating.
Porter did not talk much about the attack, aside from his denial about using the brass knuckles. Police are saying they are still doubtful about the motive behind the assault.
Ojeda himself, however, believes that the attack was premeditated, and had explicit political motives. He states that he has made it a point throughout his campaign to challenge the poverty and corruption that plagues his region, demanding a more transparent government as part of his platform. He states:
‘The moment you start asking questions, you become public enemy number one. I’m challenging the powers that be.’
Ojeda will be heading in to surgery sometime later this week. He is hoping for a speedy recovery so he can get back on the campaign trail by next week, eager to resume the work he claims to have been beaten for.
Booth Goodwin, a Democratic candidate for Governor of West Virginia also released a statement in support of Ojeda:
‘I am shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Richard Ojeta. My thoughts and prayers go out to Richard and his family. Richard served his country with honor and is seeking to continue his service to his state. Violence has no place anywhere in our political process.
Featured image via Facebook.