Trump suspect Michael Sandford was a 'very quiet lad'

Police make arrest at Donald Trump's campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, 18 June Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Police led the suspect away at Saturday's Trump rally in Las Vegas

A British man arrested while trying to grab a policeman's gun at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas has been described in his home town as "a very quiet lad".

Michael Sandford is charged with an act of violence in a restricted area.

The 20-year-old had reportedly tried to seize the gun and said he wanted to shoot the US presidential candidate.

Surrey Police said it was "providing family liaison support on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office".

Mr Sandford told American police if he had not tried to kill Mr Trump at this rally he would have tried again at a rally in Phoenix, for which he had already booked tickets, the papers say.

He told investigators he had been in the US for one and a half years and drove to Las Vegas from California specifically to kill Mr Trump, the court papers say.

Court research showed he was unemployed, living out of his car and in the US illegally, the Associated Press news agency reports.

A federal public defender said he had autism and had attempted suicide, the agency adds.

'Polite and peaceful'

Mr Sandford's father Paul Davey, from Havant, said his son had "always been a polite and peaceful boy".

Mr Davey told the Portsmouth News: "Whether he's been blackmailed or put up to it, that's the only thing me and his mum can think of.

"It's so against his nature and obviously with his Aspergers, we think somebody has got hold of him and done something."

Mr Sandford has been described as a keen Robot Wars enthusiast who competed with a machine he built and bought a number of robots featured in the show.

The BBC understands he lived with his mother Lynne in Dorking, Surrey until about 18 months ago.

Their neighbours and his former schoolmates also reacted to news of his arrest.

'Horrible Trump'

Katrina Greg told BBC Surrey: "He seems like quite a scruffy-dressed fellow most of the time; jeans and a baggy t-shirt, shaggyish brown hair. He certainly never looked like he dressed smart or wore a suit to work."

But she added: "He kept himself to himself, like most people on this street".

Image caption Michael Sandford is believed to have lived in a flat in Cotmandene, Dorking

Another neighbour in Dorking described him as "a very quiet lad".

"He was alright. He got on well with his mum as far as I know. His mum is nice and is a friendly character."

One elderly neighbour, asked if she was surprised by what is said to have happened, said: "Kids do strange things and he (Trump) is a horrible man anyway."

Mr Sandford attended Powell Corderoy Primary School in Dorking, then went on to Ascombe School, whose headteacher David Blow declined to comment.

One classmate, who was in Mr Sandford's Year 6 class, said: "My boyfriend's mum showed me an article about it this morning and asked if I had gone to school with him and as soon as I saw the picture I recognised him.

"All I remember about him from school - he was a bit of a strange one and I never really spoke to him."

Shooting range

Powell Corderoy headteacher Emma McLoughlin said she did not work at the school when Mr Sandford attended but staff had mentioned him.

She said: "I did not know the guy, it was a long time ago in the school's history.

"It highlights the importance of how we teach children about expressing themselves in non-violent ways.

"To be honest it's not the sort of thing we want to draw the children's attention to."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Sandford attended Ascombe School

The US Secret Service claimed Mr Sandford told police he wanted to kill the presumptive Republican nominee.

Mr Sandford is alleged to have told investigators he expected to die in the attempt, which he had been planning for a year.

He arrived in Las Vegas last Friday and reportedly went to a local shooting range to learn how to use a gun.

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