Paul Neugebauer, a Bridgeport, Connecticut firefighter, allegedly lost his cool on Thursday when he aggressively confronted a President Barack Obama supporter who was filling up his car at a local gas station.
Robert Kravitz told the Connecticut Post that he was wearing an Obama 2012 shirt and sitting in his Volvo, which was also adorned with pro-Obama messages, when Neugebauer approached.
"I'm sitting there texting my daughter, and this big, burly guy puts his huge head into my car and starts screaming at me, calling me a f---ing socialist," Kravitz told the Post on Friday. "I thought at first it must be a joke by some friend of mine. Who does that to a total stranger?"
Kravitz said he got out of his car after the initial encounter, and shortly thereafter Neugebauer "grabbed [his] arm and shoved [him] against the car," he claimed.
Neugebauer denies allegations that the incident got physical, but the police eventually came to the scene and charged with him with breaching the peace. He will be arraigned on Sept. 25, according to the Post. The chief of the Bridgeport Fire Department said that Neugebauer has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
In an interview with the Post Neugebauer took responsibility for his actions and said he was concerned he'd be fired.
"It's my own fault," he said. "I can't keep my mouth shut and my employer is tired of it."
Neugebauer has had run-ins with the law before. In 2002, the former Ground Zero volunteer was charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias following an altercation with a Middle Eastern convenience store owner and his son. The charges constituted a hate crime.
Politically-inspired clothing has been linked to violence in the past. In 2008, Obama volunteer Kaylon Johnson was brutally beaten at a Shreveport, La. gas station by a gang of assailants who allegedly targeted him because he was black and wearing an Obama t-shirt. Arrests were eventually made in that case.
Conservatives also claimed in 2008 that shirts showing support for then-presidential candidate John McCain or his running mate Sarah Palin brought them unwarranted scrutiny from law enforcement.