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Brit in court over attempt to shoot Donald Trump

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A Briton has appeared in a US court after being accused of trying to grab a police officer's gun at a rally for Donald Trump and attempting to kill the US presidential candidate.

Michael Sandford, 20, was arrested at the Las Vegas rally, held in a casino, after reaching for the weapon as he asked for Trump's autograph.

Sandford told police he had plotted to assassinate the Republican candidate for a year. He had taken shooting lessons in the days leading up to the rally and said he believed he would die during the bid. This was verified by a Secret Service report.

police remove protestor Michael Steven Sandford
Police remove protestor Michael Steven Sandford after he was accused of making a grab for a police officer’s gun (John Locher/AP)

The British national was denied bail at a District Court in Nevada on Monday, where he appeared charged with an act of violence on restricted grounds.

Federal Magistrate Judge George Foley declined to release Sandford, who appeared before him in leg irons, over concerns he was a potential danger to the community and a flight risk.

A federal public defender told the court Sandford was autistic and Sandford didn’t enter a plea. His mother told the judge he had been treated for obsessive compulsive disorder and anorexia as a young man.

Court research discovered that Sandford didn’t have permission to be in the US and was unemployed. Papers filed at the court said he had been in the country for around 18 months and lived in Hoboken, New Jersey.

 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Treasure Island hotel and casino in Las Vegas
Donald Trump speaking at the Treasure Island hotel and casino in Las Vegas (John Locher/AP)

It is believed Sandford had driven across the US to San Bernardino, California, and had been living in his car before travelling to Las Vegas last week.

In the days before the rally, he visited the Battlefield Vegas shooting range where he practised using a 9mm Glock pistol, firing off 20 rounds.

The following day he went to the Treasure Island Casino where Trump was addressing a rally of 1,500 supporters amid tight security.

People holding Trump signs
People hold signs as they wait for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to speak in Vegas (John Locher/AP)

Attendees had to pass through metal detectors manned by Secret Service, police and casino security officials.

Sandford asked for an autograph from the billionaire and allegedy attempted to take a police officer's holstered gun before being tackled by security forces. He was then frogmarched from the venue.

 

protesters in Arizona
Protesters clash with Donald Trump supporters shortly after a Trump rally in Phoenix, which Sandford had bought a ticket for (Beatriz Costa-Lima/AP)

Sandofrd also bought a ticket to a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, for later on Saturday in case he failed in his first attempt.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are providing assistance following an arrest of a British national in Las Vegas.”

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