Police have arrested a man suspected of assault, alleging that he punched another man in an argument over President Donald Trump at a popular North Texas travel center. The incident was captured on video, which went viral Saturday evening.
The man, Jason Lata, 44, was taken into custody Saturday by Denton police. He was charged with assault causing bodily injury and jailed. Bail was set at $15,000.
Please see our press release on the arrest of the suspect in today’s assault. https://t.co/ospzIJka3l
— Frank Dixon (@Chief_Dixon2746) October 4, 2020
Denton police became aware of the incident as it circulated on social media.
The incident took place outside Buc-ee's, a large convenience store and gas station, during a confrontation between the victim and a group of men.
"The victim told officers that he and a friend observed supporters of President Donald Trump at the location. A verbal argument ensued, and the victim said an unknown male then punched him in the face," police said.
In an online fundraiser for his medical expenses, the victim wrote, "I was assaulted for peacefully protesting and standing up for myself."
Denton police were sent around 12:40 p.m. Saturday to the hospital where the victim was recovering. "Officers observed an abrasion below the victim's right eyebrow," police said. "He also had a broken tooth."
In the Twitter video posted by the victim's friend, which has been viewed more than 3 million times, an anti-Trump rap song is heard, which appears to draw the ire of a group of men. One, wearing a Trump 2020 shirt, tells the victim, "You shouldn't even be here, bud." Then another yells at the victim, "Turn it off!" and punches him in the face. The victim can be seen falling to the ground, and the men flee the scene.
Police asked for help identifying the suspect.
We are aware of an assault that occurred at Buccee’s in our city this afternoon. A report has been taken and detectives are conducting an investigation. If you have information, please call Denton Police at (940) 349-8181. The suspect is in the brown/red hat and black t-shirt. pic.twitter.com/WfaifE1qKu
— Frank Dixon (@Chief_Dixon2746) October 3, 2020
"The unknown male was last seen in a dark-colored Dodge Ram," said Denton police, who soon identified the man as Lata. Police Chief Frank Dixon said in a tweet that Lata was not a resident of Denton.
Police did not confirm what exactly started the altercation, but the victim's friend tweeted that the men were "triggered to violence" by the song.