In June, when U.S. Sen. Rand Paul was with congressional colleagues near Washington, D.C., practicing his baseball swing, he escaped injury when a gunman opened fire. Last Friday, when Paul was mowing the lawn of his Bowling Green home, he wasn’t as lucky, sustaining five broken ribs and small cuts to the nose and mouth when a man tackled him.
The attack also left him with labored breathing, according to NBC News, citing the criminal complaint filed after the incident.
Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Paul, told the Associated Press Sunday Paul was in considerable pain and has difficulty getting around, including flying. Stafford said Paul has five broken ribs, including three displaced fractures, which can lead to life-threatening injuries. The pain can last for weeks or months.
Rene Albert Boucher, 59, was arrested and charged with one count of fourth-degree assault of the Republican congressman following the assault. Boucher was released Saturday night on a $7,500 bond, according to the Warren County Jail website.
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Boucher, a neighbor of Paul’s, admitted to tackling Paul, NBC News reported. The FBI was also involved in the investigation along with Kentucky State Police.
Boucher is a retired physician, according to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure and the inventor of the Therm-a-Vest, a cloth vest partially filled with rice and secured with Velcro straps that is designed to relieve back pain, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
Robert Porter, who has known Paul and his family for more than two decades, told the Washington Post he went to see Paul Saturday evening.
“He’s in some pain, but he’s going to be fine,” Porter told the newspaper. Porter said Paul’s return to Washington will be a “game-time decision” but that Paul is planning to return to work at some point in the coming days.
Boucher is a registered Democrat, according to Kentucky State Board of Elections records. However, a motive for the attack on Paul remains unclear.
Jim Skaggs, a member of the state Republican Party executive committee, lives in the neighborhood and has known both men for years. Skaggs told the Associated Press the two men disagreed politically, but was shocked to hear of the incident.
“They were as far left and right as you can be,” Skaggs said. “We had heard of no friction whatsoever other than they just were difference of political opinion. Both of them walked their little dogs at about a mile and a half circle, a nice little dog trot. I’d see them out walking, maybe they might stop and speak with each other.”
Boucher is an anesthesiologist and a pain specialist.
Following report of the assault, Kelsey Cooper, a spokesman for Paul, said in a statement “Senator Paul was blindsided and the victim of an assault. The assailant was arrested and it is now a matter for the police. Senator Paul is fine.”
Paul tweeted Sunday morning thanking people for their thoughts and prayers.
Boucher’s court date will be Thursday, according to Warren County Jail records. Fourth-degree assault is a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Paul, 54, has served in the Senate representing Kentucky since 2011, serving with Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader. He is an ophthalmologist who has practiced in Bowling Green. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 2016 and is the son of Ron Paul, a former U.S. Representative from Texas.
Paul’s brush with gunfire in June came when a lone gunman, said to be distraught over President Trump’s election, opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., The attack critically wounded Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, the majority whip of the House of Representatives. The attack also left four others, including two members of a Capitol Police security detail, wounded. The gunman was killed in the attack.