A group of Texas Democratic representatives accused a Republican colleague of threatening to “put a bullet in the head” of a fellow lawmaker during a scuffle on the Texas House floor on Monday over immigration law.
Protestors flooded the Texas House chambers shouting “Greg Abbott escucha! Estamos en la lucha," which translates to, “Gregg Abbott listen! We are in a fight!”
Protestors were rallying against an anti-sanctuary cities bill signed earlier this month by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. The new law compels local police to enforce federal immigration law or risk losing their jobs or even jail time.
As protestors' jeers overwhelmed the House chambers, they were removed by State Police, but not before sparking animosity between representatives on the floor.
Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi bragged about calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement on protestors who had interrupted the session. This angered Rinaldi’s Democratic and Latino colleagues, who were nearly moved to blows.
As the in-fighting escalated, Rinaldi allegedly told Rep. Poncho Nevarez, "I'll put a bullet in your head.”
In a statement posted to Facebook and shared on Twitter later that day, Rinaldi admitted he threatened Nevarez with a gun, but claimed he said the words in self defense after Democratic lawmakers began threatening him over his decision to call ICE on protestors.
Rinaldi said he called in federal ICE agents because he believed some of the protestors in legislative chambers were illegal and held signs that read, “I am illegal and here to stay.”
Rinaldi said his Democratic colleagues assaulted him when he informed them he had called ICE.
Several Democrats in particular made threats toward Rinaldi and repeatedly asked him to take their quarrel outside, he claimed.
“I made it clear that if he attemped to, in his words, ‘get me,’ I would shoot him in self defense,” Rinaldi said in the statement.
Rinaldi is currently under protection by State Police, he added.