HIALEAH, Fla. – Police arrested a 25-year-old man accused of attacking a canvasser handing out political flyers on Sunday evening in Hialeah.
According to the police report, the victim was distributing flyers at about 6:30 p.m. at East 60th Street and First Avenue when Javier Lopez attacked him.
The victim was campaigning for Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Val Demings, the former police chief of Orlando.
“Last night one of our canvassers wearing my T-shirt and a (DeSantis) hat was brutally attacked by (four) animals who told him Republicans weren’t allowed in their (Hialeah) neighborhood,” Rubio tweeted late Monday morning. “He suffered internal bleeding, a broken jaw & will need facial reconstructive surgery.”
But a Hialeah police arrest report obtained by Local 10 News contains no mention of any stated political motivation.
(Scroll down to read the full report.)
Police mentioned a second unidentified attacker in their report. While an officer wrote in the report that the person kicked “the defendant,” Lopez, Hialeah police admitted its officer erred, saying Tuesday that the second person involved is actually suspected of kicking the victim.
When asked by Local 10 News if police believed the attack was politically motivated, Sgt. Jose Torres, a Hialeah Police Department spokesperson, said the agency would “allow the investigation to reveal that,” but, as of Monday afternoon, there was “no indication that is the case.”
Police wouldn’t say if they were searching for any additional suspects, simply saying the case remained “under investigation.”
According to the report, police in the city, a well-known Republican stronghold, said Lopez confronted the canvasser as he walked in front of his house and said “you can’t pass by here, this is my neighborhood.”
Last night one of our canvassers wearing my T-shirt and a Desantis hat was brutally attacked by 4 animals who told him Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood in #Hialeah #Florida— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 24, 2022
He suffered internal bleeding, a broken jaw & will need facial reconstructive surgery pic.twitter.com/36QpbySg58
The victim had crossed the street to avoid Lopez, the report states.
According to the report, the victim told Lopez that he was campaigning on public property and could be there if he wanted to.
Police said after further arguing, Lopez rushed towards the canvasser, grabbing him and slamming him to the ground.
Investigators initially wrote that another person, who left the scene before officers arrived, “kicked the defendant (Lopez) on the right side of his face,” but police said Tuesday that its officer made a mistake in writing the report—the still-unidentified person is instead suspected of kicking the victim.
Police said Lopez then started punching the canvasser multiple times, causing “severe swelling” on the right side of his face, causing the victim’s right eye to be “completely shut” from the damage and causing “severe swelling and bleeding” from his mouth.
Hialeah Fire Department crews responded to treat the victim, the report states.
Police took Lopez to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on an aggravated battery charge.
While police didn’t identify the victim, Local 10 News has learned that he is Christopher Monzon.
Monzon has been in the news before.
Back in 2017, the then-22-year-old was arrested at a protest in Hollywood ahead of a city commission meeting over whether to change the name of streets honoring Confederate leaders.
Police accused Monzon, a counter-protester who was wearing a shirt that said “League of the South,” of jabbing a flag, containing a Confederate design, at people.
At the time, he faced charges of aggravated assault, inciting a riot and disorderly conduct.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors domestic extremism, the League of the South is a “neo-Confederate” hate group.
Monzon, who remained hospitalized, initially agreed to an interview with Local 10 News but changed his mind.
He has spoken publicly about his past support of white nationalism, but said he changed his ways.
Local 10 News has reached out to the Rubio campaign for comment.
Editor’s note: Local 10 News has updated this article to reflect a clarification from Hialeah police that its officer mistakenly wrote that a second person “kicked the defendant (Lopez) on the right side of his face.” Police said Tuesday that the second person actually kicked Monzon, the victim. Additionally, the officer’s report lists the suspect’s age as “22.” The article has been updated to reflect the suspect’s correct age, 25.
Read the full arrest report: