Washington, DC – A one-time candidate for governor of New Jersey was arrested after he drove an SUV bedecked with far-fetched political slogans onto the National Mall and tried to run over pedestrians near the base of the Washington Monument on Sunday.
The incident occurred at about 7:30 p.m. on July 4 as tourists and locals were gathering on the National Mall for the fireworks celebration, WRC reported.
The Washington Monument has been closed for repairs since January, but the area around it is a popular gathering spot.
Witnesses said a man drove his SUV onto the walkways that surrounded the monument’s grounds and then accelerated towards pedestrians as if he wanted to run them over.
“My son and I were kind of like, ‘What’s going on? That seems weird.’ It looked like he was looking for an exit and then all of a sudden it turned to, no… there is something wrong here,” Nicholas Kline told WRC.
Bystanders said the man did figure-eights on the lawn around the Washington Monument and at one point got out of his vehicle and appeared to look around before getting back in and taking off again.
Eventually, the SUV slammed into a wall that serves as a barrier around the monument and almost struck a woman who was sitting there, WRC reported.
“He was going down the walkway and people were running out of the way. And then he ran right into that wall, literally just missing somebody by I would say a foot,” Kline said. “She wasn’t able to jump up. Somebody was dragging her, pulling her up.”
DC resident Michael Vachon pulled the driver out of the SUV after he crashed, WRC reported.
Vachon said he asked the driver what his problem was; the driver told him “I’m dying.”
“And he was like, ‘The government is trying to kill me.’ I’m like, ‘The government is not trying to kill you. Lie down,'” Vachon told WRC.
The suspect was conscious and talking as he was wheeled on a stretcher toward an ambulance.
Someone asked him why he had done it and the suspect started yelling about big tech and spewed obscenities about Facebook, Google, and Twitter, according to WRC.
Explosive sniffing dogs were brought to the scene to search the suspect vehicle after the wreck.
The U.S. Park Police identified the driver in custody as 38-year-old Jack Joseph Dessin, WKXW reported.
Park Police said Dessin was charged with destruction of government property and assault with a deadly weapon.
Although he never made it onto the November ballot for the governor’s race, Dessin’s website still had his campaign platform on it that called for New Jersey to “end the war on guns” and become an “open carry sanctuary state,” WKXW reported.
“With the literal decay of our laws in the last few months, I believe it is time for New Jersey to go in an entirely ‘NEW RADICAL’ direction leaving many of our old laws in our past within the VERY FIRST 100 DAYS!!!” Dessin’s platform read.