A Nesconset man threatened to kill supporters of Pres. Donald Trump and Rep. Lee Zeldin, according to the police – but his lawyer says he is simply exercising his First Amendment rights.
"My client just expressed his dissatisfaction with the administration. That's what the first amendment is about," said Guy Oksenhendler, lawyer on Saturday.
Suffolk County Police said Martin Astrof, 75, confronted a worker on Friday at the Neldonset campaign headquarters Zeldin, who, like Trump, is the Republican. After threatening to kill the campaigners and other supporters, the police said Astrof supported his car in an aggressive manner and almost hit the worker before he went to speed.
The volunteer for the Donato Panico campaign, 49 in Smithtown, said that the collapse Nobody started after he rolled down his car window to offer help to Astrof, who cursed and pounded on the campaign's office door.
Astrof, he said, grew more rebellious after seeing the "Make America Great Again" hat on Panicy's passenger seat.
"He was upset a thousand times, I have never seen anyone so crazy," said Panico, a former Smithtown deli owner who formed an ideal to serve sandwiches to the police and firefighters.
"Oh my God, this guy has a knife or a gun," Panico said he believed. "All I could think of was," I have to get out of this car, this guy will kill me.
Panico said he fled through the passenger door and then tried to keep the car between him and Astrof, whose threats partially focused on which advocates called "cages" used to imprison migrant children after crossing into the United States from Mexico.
"He will put all of us in cages, like the children down there, he comes Panico said to him.
Panico said he called 911 while trying to take a picture of Astrof and his car's signpost.
Panico, father of 5 year-old twins, participated in Trump's state in the Union speech in January at Zeldin's invitation. He said that his wife and staff had just left the office a few minutes before Astrof arrived.
Astrof was accused of making a terrorist threat and ruthless threat. He has been released on a band of $ 25,000.
Oksenhendler said on Saturday that his client, a real estate consultant, "strongly denies" the charges against him, although he acknowledged that Astrof was angry with Trump's immigration policy.
"My client, like many of us, is upset by the immigration policy of this administration, and in particular the policy of separating children from their parents," said Oksenhendler.
Trump turned about separating migrant children from their parents last month and allowed families to be detained instead.
Astrof is a registered democrat, according to voter data.
"This man is loved by his family, he is adored by friends, and he is admired by his friends and colleagues," said Oxenhelder. "My client is a man, a father and a grandfather who has worked hard all his life to take care of his family and it breaks him to see families broken up without any fair process."
His client looks forward to "working with district law firm to resolve this matter in court," said Oksenhendler.
In one Friday, Zeldin (R-Shirley) said: "In the United States, political points are eliminated in the vote, not by trying to kill your political opponents. Donato Panico is a great American supporter of @ realDonaldTrump and one of my campaign volumes. He should not have been directed today for his passion and dedication. "
Sa Panico:" You do not do this for other people. You just do not treat people so you treats people you want to be treated. I respect your opinion, you are not entitled to do it to anyone else. "