A Biden supporter was arrested last week after pushing his way into a group of Trump flag wavers on the Interstate 77 overpass in Fort Mill, according to a police report.
Witnesses say that suspect Joseph Stilwell got so rough with Trump supporter Michael Roarty, that Roarty sprayed the man in the face with OC spray, according to a Fort Mill police report. Stilwell, 53, ended up going to jail for assault and battery for being the aggressor, according to a Fort Mill Police report obtained this week.
The incident happened at 5:20 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 21 at the I-77 overpass at Sutton Road, which is a half-mile from the suspect’s home on Frances Circle.
Here is how a police report explains the encounter:
“Michael Roarty advised that he was with a group who were waving Trump flags on the overpass when the defendant, later identified as Joseph Stilwell, arrived on scene. Roarty further advised that Stilwell got off this motorcycle with a Biden flag and walked into the middle of the group and began attempting to shove his way with the flag to the edge of the overpass.
“Roarty states that he and Stilwell began to argue about him pushing into the group, and as a result, Stilwell shoved him and attempted to strike him with his flag pole. Roarty advised that he used his flag to defend himself from being struck and officers observed a dent on the flag pole.
“After Stilwell attempted to strike him, Roarty stated that he pulled an OC spray canister from his pocket and sprayed it in Stilwell’s face before contacting law enforcement.”
Stilwell told officers his side of the story, saying that he stood near Roarty to wave his flag and an argument started over where he was standing. “That resulted in the two pushing each other,” the report says. “Stilwell advised that Roarty then produced a canister of OC spray and sprayed him in the face which made him swing his flag and pole at Roarty.”
Two witnesses told police that the suspect “walked into the middle of the group and started yelling in Roarty’s face.” They supported Roarty’s claim that Stilwell tried to hit him with the flag and got sprayed as a result.
This is the second time Trump supporters have drawn anger and violence while waving flags on that overpass. In August, a Charlotte man was arrested for allegedly firing at Fort Mill residents gathered on the same interstate bridge to support President Trump.
In that case, the Trump supporters were on I-77 and Sutton Road around 6:50 p.m. Aug. 24 when three male subjects drove by more than once, making derogatory remarks and yelling obscenities at them from their vehicle.
“As the vehicle turned from Sutton Road on to the ramp to northbound I-77, the driver of the vehicle continued yelling and then extended his arm through the window, while holding what appeared to be a handgun,” Fort Mill Police Maj. Bryan Zachary said in an Aug. 25 press release. “The victims further stated that, at that moment, they heard several shots fired, and the vehicle then proceeded northbound on the Interstate.”
No one was injured in that case.
The news comes after the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday night was described as “a chaotic series of bitter exchanges and name-calling.”
Election day is Nov. 3, but Fort Mill residents can begin casting in-person absentee ballots at the Fort Mill Community Center on Oct. 12.