Armed Trump supporters near St. Petersburg, Florida, polling site were off-duty guards and had not been hired, officials say

“There was a misunderstanding,” said Thurston, who said he is not formally affiliated with the Trump campaign. “We didn’t hire them. It might have looked like that, but that’s not what happened. They were not there to intimidate anyone.”

Late Wednesday, the top elections administrator in Pinellas County, Julie Marcus (R), said the two armed people had told sheriff’s deputies that they were hired by the Trump campaign. She said generally that voter intimidation would not be tolerated.

On Thursday, Thurston said the tent was 250 feet from the polling site, beyond the perimeter where campaign signs and guns are not permitted. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri (R) said the off-duty guards had done nothing illegal.

The Trump campaign denied that it had hired the pair, and Gualtieri said at a news conference that there was no evidence that it had.

“What gave people the concern was just their presence,”

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