VIRGINIA BEACH — The driver of a campaign van carrying Sen. Amanda Chase of Chesterfield, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, says he brandished an AR-15 pistol this week after he was repeatedly threatened during a road rage incident.
Chase, who at the time was participating by phone in an election forum hosted by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, says the Wednesday incident unfolded as the group traveled from Virginia Beach to Richmond. The van was in the Norfolk area when the incident occurred.
The driver, Shayne Snavely, said in an interview Friday that a small sedan tried to drive the campaign van off the road as it exited the highway, following directions from the GPS to Chase’s home in Chesterfield County.
Snavely said the campaign van pulled off at a median and was confronted by a member of the other vehicle.
“He jumps out of the car, has his hands in his waistband charging towards the car. That’s when you hear the click of my gun, pointed at him. He spun around and got back in his car,” Snavely said.
Snavely says he believes there were three men in the sedan.
The liberal American Bridge PAC first publicized audio of the exchange, which was first reported by The Washington Post. Details of the incident could not be corroborated with anyone outside of the Chase campaign, and the identity of the person who Chase says threatened her team is unclear.
Chase, in an interview, said she was distracted by the forum she was participating in and did not see the beginning of the altercation.
“I sit in the back, and I’m doing my videos. I’m not really paying attention to what’s going on. But I just knew that there was a commotion going on,” Chase said. She said her aides were trying to avoid the sedan and “get out of the way,” but were still followed.
“They waited until we were making a U-turn and we were at standstill to pull up quickly beside us, and run, run at the car,” Chase said.
Chase said her aides did as they were trained to do.
“We could have had a really bad situation right now, and I’m so thankful that my personal aides are trained to handle that type of a situation ... and they did a flawless job,” she said.
Chase and her aide said their van was unmarked, but speculated as to whether they were targeted.
During another campaign event in Virginia Beach on Friday afternoon, yard signs supporting Chase were visible from the back of the van.
Republican convention delegates will select their nominee for governor on May 8 from a field of seven candidates including Chase, Del. Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights, former Pentagon official Sergio de la Peña, former think tank CEO Peter Doran, former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, entrepreneur Pete Snyder and former private equity CEO Glenn Youngkin.
The convention will feature about 50,000 registered delegates voting in a “disassembled convention” with polling places across the state.