Woman pepper sprays man as fight breaks out at Florida polling site

Police in Florida are investigating an altercation between a man and a woman at the Jupiter Community Center voting site where a man tackled a woman while she pepper-sprayed him.

Explore>> Read more trending stories

Witnesses say Tom Garrecht yelled at Donna Tatlici, who was handing out Donald Trump literature. After Garrecht voted, he came out of the polling site and kept yelling at Tatlici.

As the shouting increased, the two got closer and she pepper-sprayed him. Garrecht then grabbed Tatlici by the neck and threw her down.

Tatlici said she has been at the Jupiter Community Center volunteering for a week handing out GOP literature. She said Garrecht screamed at her, "I don't need anyone to tell me who to vote for."

Tatlici responded, "I'm not here to do that. I'm just here to give you the information."

According to Tatlici, Garrecht then went in to vote.

When Garrecht exited the polling place, Tatlici said he charged at her and "came right into my face," yelling expletives at her.

Tatlici warned Garrecht that she had pepper spray on her key chain and that he should back away.

She said at that point Garrecht "put his hand on her shoulder" as the two continued to have words before Garrecht slammed her to the ground and "started punching her."

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I couldn't believe someone would actually hit me. I was really upset."

Those who saw the altercation say the fight happened in front of some campaign signs for Trump and Republican candidate for U.S. House District 18 Brian Mast. The signs are a legal distance away from the polling place.

One witness said Garrecht was "up in her face like he was picking a fight."

Tatlici, who has a scrape on her elbow, but is otherwise fine, said she will press charges.

Mark Smith, a lawyer handing out literature nearby on behalf of his friend, state Senate candidate Ron Berman, said Garrecht came out of the polling place "with a huge chip on his shoulder."

"He was up in her face like he was picking a fight," Smith said.

Garrecht admitted he said some things he "shouldn't have," and that he should have just gone to his car. He spoke to police at the scene and rinsed his eyes with water. Yellow pepper spray was still on his face and shirt when he was interviewed by The Palm Beach Post soon after the incident.

"They said they're probably going to charge me with assault, which is absurd, since she sprayed me first," he said.

Tatlici was shaken up. Her wristwatch was broken and she had a scrape on her arm. But she was otherwise unharmed.

After she spoke to police, she recoiled when multiple reporters asked to interview her.

"I'm so embarrassed," she said.

She'd been volunteering at the site for several days of early voting, handing out sheets of paper with down-ballot recommendations for Trump supporters.

She and other Trump supporters appeared to be well outside the 100-foot boundary surrounding the voting booths.

The state attorney's office will determine if it will file assault charges on Garrecht.

About the Author