UPDATED (Oct. 23, 4:03 p.m.): New information has been released regarding Anderson’s arrest in Bakersfield. Police said Friday Anderson was originally arrested Oct. 17 and taken to a hospital due to medical issues.
A hold was placed on Anderson at the hospital, but he managed to walk away, according to police. Deputies located him that night and rearrested him, booking him on the same charges as his initial arrest.
Anderson posted bail and was released, made his way up north and was arrested a third time by authorities there.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET), Oct. 22 — Authorities say the man accused of firing a paintball gun at demonstrators during a Trump rally last weekend escaped custody. Officers caught him again, this time in Northern California. The Gridley Police Department found 35-year-old Aaron Anderson impersonating a police officer, just days after he was arrested in Bakersfield for hitting two people with the weapon, loaded with marbles.
“I thought it was like the plot to a bad movie,” said Sean Ditty, a demonstrator who was hit with a marble.
A group gathered at Emerald Cove Park in Bakersfield for an event supporting President Donald Trump last Saturday. That’s when witnesses say Anderson became aggressive while running a petition booth in the park. Flor Hull, a demonstrator campaigning to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, recorded a video of Anderson yelling expletives towards her after a confrontation.
“We got there early in the morning and this gentleman was already there,” she said. “He literally cussed me out. He probably would have attacked me physically if I instigated or cussed at him.”
Witnesses say Anderson drew a paintball gun that morning, but put it away. Hours later he harassed Hull once again, pulling out the paintball gun once more after a heated standoff. Multiple protesters intervened, chasing the 35-year-old down the street.
“He pointed it in the air, and with some expletives, told us that we better not get any closer. At that point he opened fire and we just thought it was a paintball gun,” said Ditty. “When one of the projectiles hit me in the chest I expected to see paint. I looked down at my feet and saw it was a glass marble.”
Demonstrators caught up to him and tackled him to the ground, before Bakersfield Police arrested him. Anderson was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one for each person he hit.
“If these had impacted a small child in the head or in the eyes we’d have some serious injuries,” Ditty said.
Bakersfield police took him to jail the next day, on Sunday. Then authorities brought him to Kern Medical after Anderson complained of health concerns. Gridley Police Lieutenant Ruben Quihuiz told 17 News Anderson had stitches on his head, claiming they’re from the altercation at the rally. His hospital stay didn’t last, as he broke out that night and fled.
Gridley Police officers pulled Anderson over two days later. He was driving a black Chevrolet Tahoe outfitted to look like an unmarked police car, with bumpers and spotlights. Officers stopped him because there weren’t any license plates on the vehicle. He wove a story that he was a, “special hunting a violent pedophile,” according to a press release from the Gridley Police Department.
Officers found a small arsenal in the vehicle. According to Gridley Police, Anderson had a, “replica sawed off shotgun, 68 caliber rubber bullets, numerous CO2 cartridges, a large machete, and a taser flashlight.” He was arrested at the scene, and officers found him with a Georgia Driver’s License.
Hull says she doesn’t want this incident to divide a nation plagued by political polarization.
“There are good people on every side,” she said. “He wasn’t a part of anything as far as Antifa or Black Lives Matter. He was not a part of the Trump people. He was just a crazy, crazy man that could have hurt a lot of people.”
Officers brought Anderson to Butte County Jail, where he faces charges for unlawful weapon possession and impersonating a police officer. Some of his charges are felonies, according to police. His bail is set at $1.5 million, and the Kern County District Attorney’s office says they may extradite him to Kern County following his prosecution in Butte County.