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Senator Slugged At Tree-Planting Ceremony

October 25, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A man who slugged Sen. John Glenn Wednesday after muttering ″the earthquakes are starting″ had been detained by police Tuesday after approaching Vice President Dan Quayle’s motorcade, officials said.

Michael Breen, who was arrested after hitting Glenn in the jaw at a tree- planting ceremony, was the same man detained for two hours Tuesday after breaking through a police line and trying to approach Quayle’s motorcade, U.S. Capitol police said.

Breen, 31, of Washington, tried to pass a letter to Quayle’s motorcade but was stopped before he got close to the car, said a Capitol Police spokesman. Breen was not arrested Tuesday because he did not commit a crime, the spokesman said.

After hitting Glenn at a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Breen was charged with assaulting a member of Congress, which is a felony, said a District of Columbia police spokesman. Breen’s arraignment was set for Thursday in U.S. District Court, he said.

A Glenn aide said the senator’s jaw was sore but he did not see a doctor and kept to his schedule.

Glenn’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Bell, said the Ohio Democrat was talking to a television reporter when a man who had watched Glenn help plant a tree started muttering, ″The earthquakes are starting, the earthquakes are starting.″

The man then ″comes up and socks″ Glenn on the jaw, she said. The senator, a former astronaut and ex-Marine, grabbed the man and called for Smithsonian guards.

Gary Nurenberg, the TV reporter, said Glenn rubbed his jaw and said, ″I haven’t been hit like that in 30 years.″ Nurenberg, a correspondent with Gillett News Bureau, said ″the senator at 68 had better reflexes than anybody else there.″

The attack was captured on videotape.

Nurenberg said the man told him last week’s California earthquake was a harbinger of imminent catastrophe in which two-thirds of the world’s population would be wiped out.

″He talked about the children of Fatima. He said the Pope is withholding information,″ the reporter said. The man told Nurenberg he hit Glenn to ″get attention.″

Nurenberg said the man wore a coat, a tie and suspenders and ″looked to be a professional, yuppie type.″

The crime of hitting a congressman carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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