Cape man claims he was threatened at political rally

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Political campaigning at the part of Capaha Park known as Freedom Corner Thursday evening turned ugly and resulted in an arrest and possible charges.

Dru Reeves of Cape Girardeau alleges he was threatened with a knife while he was with a group of fellow Republicans at the corner showing his support for the Bush/Cheney ticket. Republicans have been gathering there between 6 and 7 p.m. for the past several Thursdays, he said, to show support for the ticket. Reeves also said his assailant later offered him $20 to forget the incident.

While the Republicans were at Freedom Corner, a group of Kerry/Edwards supporters were also present showing their support for the Democrat presidential ticket.

Reeves said he had placed a wire-encased Bush/Cheney paper sign in the ground near where he was standing at the park. He said he noticed a man, later identified as Nathan Botsch, 26, of Dexter, Mo., standing in front of the sign blocking it. Reeves turned to speak to someone briefly, and when he turned around the sign was gone. He said he asked Botsch if he had taken the sign, but Botsch did not respond.

When Botsch did not respond a second time to the question, Reeves said he told him that he was going to assume he had taken the sign and called the police.

Botsch attempted to leave, and Reeves said, "I told him 'you're not going anywhere until the police get here. You have stolen my property and refused to talk to me.'"

Reeves said that he blocked Botsch's attempt to leave again, and some other men with Botsch told him to give the sign back.

"He reached into his jacket and threw the sign on the ground," Reeves said. "The guy had just proven that he stole my sign."

He said Botsch again tried to leave, but Reeves again prevented him from leaving until police arrived.

Released on summons

Botsch then turned his back to him, and when he turned back around, Reeves said, Botsch had a knife.

Cape Girardeau police confirmed that Botsch was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor theft, and released on a summons. Sgt. Kevin Orr said that the incident is still under investigation and further charges are possible.

Reeves said he will press for felony charges against Botsch.

Jordon Hattery, local coordinator for the Democratic campaign, said Friday afternoon that he was unaware of the incident and that he did not know Botsch. He said he would check his lists of people who have offered to volunteer, and if Botsch's name is among them, it will be removed.

"It's very unfortunate," Hattery said. "I wish this election wasn't that heated so something like this never occurred."

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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