A Russian Orthodox priest who was assaulted by a man who asked him “How’s Trump?” before letting loose a barrage of punches believes his cross “enraged” his assailant, Seattle’s KIRO-TV reports.
Abbot Tryphon was minding his own business and fueling up his van at a suburban Seattle gas station when a passerby noticed the cross he was wearing. Tryphon says that the man focused intently on the cross and kept his gaze on the ornament as he approached the priest with a “look of anger” on his face.
The man allegedly approached the priest and asked, “How’s Trump?” to which the priest, taken aback, answered that he had no idea. That’s when the man hit him, he says.
“I have never been hit as hard.”
It remains unclear, as of this writing, if the assailant hit the elderly cleric once or more than once. Surveillance video from the gas station doesn’t clearly show the assault, as the priest’s van was between the camera and the assailant. Multiple witnesses, however, saw the incident and called 911, according to King County Sheriff Ryan Abbott.
“You can see him swing and the priest went down to the ground. He was wearing all of his priest gear, including a cross.”
Police have released surveillance video footage of the alleged assailant and his face is clearly visible from cameras positioned inside the building. As of this writing, he remains at large.
Abbott Tryphon believes that he was the victim of an anti-Trump hate crime. Specifically, he thinks the assailant saw his cross, concluded that he was a conservative Christian (Trump has broad and enthusiastic support among Evangelical Christians), and acted on that belief.
For his part, Tryphon says that he’s not a “political person” and prefers to keep his politics to himself.
And if his alleged assailant is ever brought to justice, Tryphon says he knows what he’s going to do.
“I want to go to the jail and I want to sit in the cell with him, alone, and I want to tell him that I forgive him, that I love him and that God loves him. That’s what I want to do.”
Tryphon is not the first person to have been assaulted over a Donald Trump connection, real or imagined. In fact, several individuals report having been verbally and/or physically assaulted by anti-Trump individuals. For example, as The New York Post reports, a high school student in Oklahoma faces criminal charges for allegedly assaulting a classmate for wearing a “Make America Great Again” shirt.