Army Engineer Veteran and West Virgina state Senate Candidate Richard Ojeda was viciously attacked Sunday evening at a fundraising cookout, just two days prior to the primary election. Ojeda is a retired Army Engineer Major, a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Airborne Sapper. He is currently running for the District 7 West Virginia Senate seat.
West Virgina State Police arrested Jonathan Porter, who turned himself in after hiding in the woods for several hours. Porter is set to be charged with attempt to commit a felony, felony destruction of property, and malicious assault. He is being held in Southwestern Regional Jail.
Ojeda was placing a bumper sticker on a vehicle when Porter ambushed him, wearing a set of brass knuckles – temporarily disabling him. Porter then attempted to run Ojeda over with a vehicle but was stopped by Ojeda supporters, who forced Porter to flee. Porter struck several parked vehicles as he sped off during his initial escape.
Porter is said to be a longtime political operative in the region by sources familiar with the area. Ojeda and his family believe that the attack was politically motivated. In the assault,
Timothy Koontz, a staffer for the Ojeda campaign stated:
Rich has repeatedly taken his opponent’s supporters to court for destroying his campaign signs and other voter intimidation. It’s time for the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI to clean up Logan County . . . Rich Ojeda is a decent man who has served our country bravely in Afghanistan and Iraq, and no one thought that his campaign for transparency at the Logan County Court House would be more dangerous than his battles against our foreign enemies.
On the Ojeda campaign Facebook page, Kelly Ojeda, wife of Mr. Ojeda left this statement:
As many of you know, Richard was attacked this afternoon. His injuries include multiple fractures and lacerations to his head and face. He is currently in transport to Charleston where a trauma team is awaiting his arrival. Please keep Richard and our family in your prayers this evening. Though this attack seems to be politically motivated, Richard is as tough as woodpecker lips, as he often says and he will pull through this.
Ojeda suffered multiple fractures, lacerations, a concussion, as a well as a host of minor injuries. He is now listed as stable at a Charleston, West Virgina hospital. Ojeda, mentally unphased by the attacked released a photo and this statement from his hospital bed:
Sorry for the pic but make no mistake….I am now even more dedicated to the cause. This doesn’t scare me and I don’t quit! This was premeditated and there was a reason the guy did this. Regardless….if anyone thinks that this will get me to march in line you obviously don’t know me very well.
Ojeda has successfully challenged the incumbent Senator, Art Kirkendoll (D – Logan,) who released this statement:
I was informed that my opponent was physically assaulted and injured at a political function today. I do not now, nor have I ever, condoned violence. It has no place in our political campaigns or in our communities. My and my family’s thoughts and prayers are with my opponent and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery.
Ojeda is expected to make a full recovery and is not at all deterred by the attack. Major Ojeda is drawing national support as a result of the attack, and most notably from the many Combat Engineers who served with the Major on his deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq with the 20th Engineer Brigade, 37th Engineer Battalion (Combat (Airborne). The motto of the 37th is Fortuna Infortuna Forti Una (Fortune or Misfortune is all the same to the Man of Stout Heart,) which fitting a fitting definition for the resolve of Major Ojeda throughout this ordeal.
The motto of the 37th is, “Fortuna Infortuna Forti Una” (Fortune or Misfortune is all the same to the Man of Stout Heart,) which is a fitting representation for the resolve of Major Ojeda throughout this ordeal.