Just how nasty did things get on the floor of the Texas House on Monday? One lawmaker threatened to shoot another amid a near fistfight. The volatile turn of events came as mostly Latino protesters flooded the state Capitol in Austin on the legislature's final day, explains the Texas Observer. They were protesting the state's new law against sanctuary cities, one that requires local governments to enforce federal immigration laws. (See a video of the protest here.) The Dallas Morning News reports that at one point amid the protest, GOP Rep. Matt Rinaldi approached Reps. Ramon Romero and Cesar Blanco on the House floor and told them he had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the protesters. That led to a shoving match, with both sides accusing the other of making threats of violence.
One Democratic lawmaker, Justin Rodriguez, says he heard Rinaldi say, "I'll put a bullet in your head" to Rep. Poncho Nevárez. And later on Facebook, Rinaldi acknowledged making such a threat, but in self defense. He says Nevárez threatened to "get me on the way to my car," adding that "I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, 'get me,' I would shoot him in self defense." Rinaldi, who says he called ICE because some of the protesters were holding signs declaring themselves to be "illegal," also accused Romero of physically assaulting him. On Twitter, Nevárez called Rinaldi "a liar and hateful man." Another lawmaker, Republican Pat Fallon, witnessed the initial shoving match and tried to break it up. "I just walked right into the middle, and I was begging them, 'People, please, not on the House floor.'"