An altercation on Saturday involving a Republican Party volunteer in Athens was the result of “road rage” and not politically motivated, according to Athens Police Chief Anthony Pressnell.

The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) issued a press release on Monday stating Tara Johnson, a Republican volunteer, was targeted in a "senseless and shameful assault outside the Limestone County GOP Trump Headquarters over the weekend.”

The ALGOP condemned "in the strongest terms" the "apparent politically motivated attack, which has left fellow members of the Limestone County GOP shaken."

The ALGOP said the incident happened on Saturday afternoon as Johnson was leaving the headquarters at 1117 U.S. Highway 72 East in Athens. Johnson is a lead ALGOP volunteer with physical mobility challenges due to health issues. The unidentified actor grabbed Johnson by the hair, repeatedly punched her in the face and slammed her head against the door of her truck, according to the ALGOP statement on Monday. 

ALGOP said in a statement they stand firmly with Johnson "during this difficult time, and we ask for prayers for her swift recovery."

Pressnell provided an update on the altercation Tuesday with a much different version of the incident than the ALGOP’s. His news release didn’t identify the women involved in the incident.

“Our investigation suggests road rage led to the altercation between a driver in one vehicle, and a passenger in another vehicle,” Pressnell said. “We received numerous questions from media asking about it being a politically motivated attack, which we never reported, and there is no indication that was the case.”

Police took statements from the women involved in the altercation and obtained video footage from Lowe’s.

Pressnell said the altercation occurred at around 5:50 p.m. Saturday. Driver No. 1 was on a side street that parallels U.S. 72 when she allegedly ran a stop sign at the Lowe’s entrance.

Driver No. 2 was on U.S. 72 turning into the Lowe’s entrance while honking and flashing car lights at Driver No. 1. When the vehicles entered the parking lot, the drivers went in opposite directions, according to Pressnell.

Driver No. 2’s wife, a passenger in the vehicle, told police she and her husband had just left a restaurant. They stopped in the parking lot to check their vehicle because they thought they had left an item or items at the restaurant.

The passenger was out of her vehicle when Driver No. 1 returned and drove up to the couple and from her vehicle window, allegedly cursed the passenger and grabbed her shirt. The passenger told police she responded by striking Driver No. 1. After the altercation, Driver No. 1 called Athens Police, and the passenger called the Sheriff’s Department.

Athens Police said neither sought medical treatment at the scene.

“The passenger said she assumed Driver Nov. 1 was coming from the walking track,” Pressnell said, referring to the Swan Creek Greenway that is at the end of the side street. “Neither woman indicated this was politically motivated.”

According to Pressnell, neither party has pursued charges at this time, and Athens Police consider the case closed.

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