INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 43-year-old man suspected of slapping a “Make America Great Again” hat another patron was wearing before spitting on him, was detained Friday, deputies said.
The man – identified as Matthias Ajple – told another man, “You should go back to Russia you (expletive) communist,” reports show. After his arrest, Ajple told deputies he was trying to protect law enforcement and that “Trump supporters are communist and racist,” officials said.
The incident was captured on Hurricane Grill & Wings surveillance footage. The iconic red hat, popularized by President Donald Trump, has been seen as a polarizing symbol for those opposing Trump.
There have been several reports of similar attacks nationwide.
For the local incident, deputies arrested Ajple, of the 4100 block of Chardonnay Place, Vero Beach, on a charge of battery. Ajple was released Saturday from the Indian River County Jail on $500 bond.
Indian River County deputies responded to a disturbance about 8 p.m. Friday at Hurricane Grill, located in the 900 block of 15th Place. A man told deputies he was sitting at the bar with his ‘MAGA’ hat when Ajple approached him and threatened him.
Deputies said Ajple slapped the brill of the man’s hat before spitting on him. Ajple then left the area with his wife.
Deputies reviewed surveillance footage before going to Ajple’s home to arrest him. Ajple told deputies, “I don’t even care that I’m going to jail; this is actually exciting. Plus, I have more time on this earth than he does anyway, he probably feels so good about himself.”
Deputies arrested Ajple and took him to the county jail. Ajple has an arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 26, court records show.