Beaufort News

Port Royal Town Councilman Klein reports assault, charges expected

File: Port Royal town council candidate Jerry Ashmore speaks as candidate and incumbent Tom Klein listens during an Oct. 22 candidate forum at Port Royal Elementary School.
File: Port Royal town council candidate Jerry Ashmore speaks as candidate and incumbent Tom Klein listens during an Oct. 22 candidate forum at Port Royal Elementary School. jkarr@islandpacket.com
A day after he was re-elected to a second term on Port Royal Town Council, Tom Klein was involved in a physical altercation outside a local restaurant while celebrating his victory, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Klein called 911 Wednesday night to report someone had assaulted him and was trespassing at a private party for Klein's supporters at 4 Island Pizza on Paris Avenue, according to a Sheriff's Office incident report and Sheriff's Office Capt. Bob Bromage.

Charges are expected against the suspect following an investigation, Bromage said, though no one had been arrested as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Deputies went to the man's Port Royal home Wednesday but didn't find him, according to the report.

The names in the report were redacted, with Klein's role confirmed by Bromage.

The Sheriff's Office was called by Port Royal Police Department to avoid a perceived conflict of interest since the incident involved a town official , Bromage said.

Reached Thursday, Klein said he had rented out the restaurant to celebrate the election outcome and had mailed invitations. About 50 guests attended, he said.

He declined to name the man he says shoved him, citing the investigation, but said he has seen him around town.

Klein told deputies the man came into the restaurant, approached Klein and was belligerent and refused to leave after being asked multiple times by multiple people. Klein walked outside to call 911 and the man followed, pushing Klein multiple times into a trash can and wall, the councilman told deputies.

In the Sheriff's Office report, a deputy wrote that Klein had no visible injuries. Klein confirmed Thursday that he wasn't hurt, only startled.

"Last night was supposed to be celebratory, but I can't say it quite was that way," Klein said.

A witness at the party confirmed Klein's account and said the man grabbed Klein's shirt and threatened to throw him to the ground before someone stepped in and escorted the man off the property.

The suspect had left when deputies arrived at 8:30 p.m., but there were numerous witnesses, Bromage said.

Port Royal Mayor Sam Murray and newly elected Town Councilman Jerry Ashmore both said they were inside the restaurant at the party and saw Klein ask a man to leave but did not see what happened after that.

"I try to stay out of stuff like that if I can," said Murray, who was elected to a sixth term as mayor on Tuesday.

Klein had participated in a public hearing and council workshop earlier Wednesday evening.

Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

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