Authorities are questioning a man after he allegedly trespassed into a building where New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office is located.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is trying to figure out why the man, identified as Douala Hashi of Washington D.C., entered the building on June 15, according to multiple media reports.
Hashi, 31, is accused of entering the building on 37th Avenue in Queens just before 5 p.m. local time.
According to the New York Post, he was involved in an argument with building employees on the ground floor, and discharged a fire extinguisher on the third floor near Ocasio-Cortez’s office.
— New York Post (@nypost) June 16, 2019
Staff in Ocasio-Cortez’s office were the ones to notify security when they noticed Hashi wandering around the building.
But security called the police after one guard was allegedly grabbed by the collar by Hashi, who scowled, “Don’t mess with me,” according to the Post. The guard also said that he believes that Hashi was holding something knife-like in his hand.
When NYPD arrived, they approached Hashi who sprayed them with a fire extinguisher, and then ran off to hide in a utility closet.
“Upon our arrival, he ended up discharging a fire extinguisher, which caused a cloud condition [and then he] retreated into a utility closet,” NYPD spokesperson George Tsourovakas said, according to ABC News.
“It doesn’t seem to be a break-in, it seems to be a trespass,” Tsourovakas added.
— NBC New York (@NBCNewYork) June 15, 2019
NYPD said Hashi has no relation to Ocasio-Cortez, who was not in the office and in Washington at the time of the incident. Ocasio-Cortez’s staff dismissed the incident as a random event that just so happened to be in the same building.
“It appears to have been a coincidence that this happened in our building,” Ocasio-Cortez Spokesperson Trent Corbin told NBC New York. “We are glad that it was resolved peacefully.”
Hashi was known to building employees before the incident. They described him as emotionally disturbed and he has since been transported to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation, according to the Huffington Post.
He was charged with menacing, criminal mischief, and criminal trespass by police, the report added.
The congresswoman recently made headlines after Conservative Radio Producer Rich Valdes alleged that she “ran away” from an opportunity to debate a potential Republican contender for the 2020 United States general election.
Valdes, who is planning to stand for election, claims he politely introduced himself to the incumbent during the National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 9.
When Valdes invited Ocasio-Cortez to a political debate, she vanished.
“In the spirit of ‘todos juntos’ (all together) I tried to politely introduce myself to RepAOC at the Puerto Rican parade where we we[re] both marching, hoping to invite her to debate the issues, but she ran away,” Valdes said on Twitter.
In the spirit of “todos juntos” I tried to politely introduce myself to @RepAOC at the Puerto Rican parade where we we both marching, hoping to invite her to debate the issues, but she ran away. 🤷🏻♂️#NationalPuertoRicanDayParade #NYC 🇺🇸🇵🇷 https://t.co/URvkoG4uUu
— Rich Valdes 🇺🇸 (@RichValdes) June 9, 2019
Valdes explained to the New York Post he was just inviting healthy debate on the merits of capitalism versus socialism.
“[Ocasio-Cortez] cut her handshaking short, jerked her hand back, and jetted to the other side of the street, she literally ran!” he said. “I thought this was a good time to try and get a response but I honestly only saw the back of her head as she trotted across the street.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.