A man was arrested Sunday night for a vicious attack on a Republican campaign worker in Hialeah, Florida — an incident publicized online by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who said it was politically motivated.
Though the victim appeared to be wearing a bloodied T-shirt with Rubio’s name, the senator’s representatives would not say where Rubio received his information. And the suspect’s arrest report makes no reference to his political leanings nor suggests that the victim was attacked because of his beliefs.
The man arrested for the attack was Javier Jesus Lopez, 25. He’s accused of aggravated battery and causing great bodily harm, a second-degree felony.
According to Lopez’s arrest report, the victim was walking near 140 East 60th St. around 6:50 p.m. Sunday in a neighborhood just south of Amelia Earhart Park when Lopez, who lives nearby, tried to block his path on the sidewalk. The canvasser crossed the street to avoid him, he told police, but Lopez followed.
“You can’t pass by here, this is my neighborhood,” the victim told police Lopez said.
The two argued and Lopez grabbed the victim and slammed him against the floor, the victim told police. A second man, who is not in custody, apparently kicked the victim’s face, as Lopez punched him repeatedly. Police reported that the victim’s right eye was “completely shut from the damages caused” by Lopez.
The Miami New Times reported that the man who was attacked is Christopher Monzon, a former candidate for Hialeah City Council who has deep ties in local Republican circles. Monzon is a former member of the Florida League of the South chapter, a white nationalist organization. He was canvassing for the Republican Party of Florida, not Rubio’s reelection campaign, a spokesperson for the senator’s campaign said.
Claudia DoCampo, director of communications at the HCA Florida Kendall Hospital, confirmed the hospital had a patient by the name of Christopher Monzon. “He canceled an earlier interview and is not available for any interviews at the moment,” DoCampo said in a text message.
Monzon did not respond to a text message. Attempts to reach him or his family at the hospital were unsuccessful.
Rubio initially alleged on social media Monday morning that four attackers — whom he described as “animals” — told the canvasser that “Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood.” Rubio said the canvasser was wearing a Rubio T-Shirt and a DeSantis hat.
Photos posted to the senator’s Twitter and Instagram accounts on Monday show a man who appears to be Monzon wearing a Rubio campaign shirt and lying on a gurney. One of his eyes looks bruised and there are streaks of what appears to be blood on his face.
The arrest affidavit mentions only two alleged attackers. It does not allege any political motivations in the attack or make any reference to whether the victim was campaigning for Rubio, DeSantis or any other political purpose.
During a Monday rally at the John F. Kennedy Library in Hialeah to mark the start of early voting in South Florida, Rubio told a crowd about the alleged incident. But he stressed that not all the details were known.
“Sadly, we get the news and we’re still waiting for details. It’s always important to have details. We’re not like these other people that always jump to conclusions, but we know this: Someone wearing a Rubio T-Shirt and a DeSantis hat was walking in a neighborhood not far from here yesterday when four individuals assaulted him, broke his nose, broke his jaw,” and gave him internal bleeding, Rubio said.
He said the canvasser was beaten so severely that he will need facial reconstructive surgery.
“I can tell you this: political violence should not be tolerated by anyone. Our side or their side, we don’t tolerate political violence. In this country, we decide who governs not by street mobs, we decide who governs at the ballot box,” Rubio added.
Detectives were interviewing the victim Monday, according to police.
Miami Herald staff writer Grethel Aguila contributed to this report.