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D.A. files charges in Newport Beach protest gun case

Travis Patrick White holds up a gun as demonstrators back off.
Travis Patrick White, right, holds a gun as a handful of demonstrators back away in Newport Beach on June 3.
(Lance Roberts)

A Newport Beach man has been charged with two misdemeanors after being accused of pulling a loaded gun on Black Lives Matter protesters during a local protest in June.

The Orange County district attorney’s office charged Travis Patrick White, 48, with one count of brandishing a firearm in public and one count of possession of a loaded firearm in a public place, prosecutors announced Friday.

White faces up to two years in county jail if convicted on both charges. He is scheduled to be arraigned at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach on Oct. 20.

According to the D.A.'s office, White exchanged words with one of the protesters June 3 as a procession reached the area of 30th Street and Newport Boulevard. The protest was held to call out racial injustice in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police, one of dozens of similar protests in Orange County over the summer.

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When protesters confronted White over his words, he pulled out a loaded semiautomatic handgun from his backpack, cocked it and pointed it up in the air, prosecutors said. Video and photos from passersby show White, shirtless and in sandals, holding a gun in the air as protesters back away.

No one was injured during the confrontation.

Carlos Romo, 77, of Newport Beach died Friday after being struck near the intersection of Irvine Avenue and 17th Street, on the Costa Mesa-Newport border.

“It is scary that someone who disagrees with your right to express yourself freely during a peaceful protest would elevate that to the level of lethal force. That should cause all of us alarm,” said Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer in a statement. “This individual brought a gun to a peaceful protest. He was looking for a confrontation and when confronted with opinions that he disagrees with he pulled out his gun. That is not the America we want and those actions will not be tolerated.”

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Newport Beach police arrested White on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threats, but prosecutors filed the possession and brandishing charges because they could prove them beyond a reasonable doubt in court, a D.A. spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors have not yet announced charges, if any, against the motorist who drove his car through a crowd marching on Balboa Boulevard at the same protest, grazing several without injury.

Davis writes for Times Community News.

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