Man charged with chasing, threatening Evan McMullin with gun on campaign trail

Posted at 5:06 PM, Aug 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 12:19:57-04

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — Evan McMullin, who is running against Sen. Mike Lee as an independent candidate in the 2022 U.S. Senate election, said a man brandished a gun after following and chasing him and his wife while they were on their way home from a campaign event in April.

Jack Aaron Whelchel, 44, was charged with a class-A misdemeanor count of threatening or using a dangerous weapon and a disorderly conduct infraction.

McMullin filed a "victim impact statement" in court earlier this week, and he requested that the court unseal the document. It has not been publicly released as of Saturday.

However, McMullin's attorneys wrote in the motion to unseal the statement that Whelchel "followed McMullin and his wife while driving home from a political event in Southern Utah," then "attempted to force the McMullins off the road, brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner."

CNN reportedly obtained the full victim impact statement, in which McMullin said Whelchel was traveling along the same route as him and his wife for "a number of miles" in Utah County, and it initially appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary.

"Ultimately, however, Mr. Whelchel aggressively followed and chased us, pulled his truck alongside us and forced my wife and I into the oncoming lane of traffic. He then brandished a firearm, pointing it toward us in a threatening way," McMullin reportedly said in the statement.

Whelchel claims a different account of what happened that night, his attorney told CNN.

"He never brandished a firearm," Brixton Hakes said.

Hakes said Whelchel "thought he was being followed" by McMullin and placed a gun on the center console of the vehicle during the "incident."

In a statement sent to FOX 13 News, McMullin said he and his wife were returning from a campaign event in southern Utah that night.

"We later learned that [Whelchel] has a history of promoting political violence on social media, though we do not know if that played any role in this incident," McMullin added. "Regardless, he put my life and the life of my wife at risk and I am cooperating fully with law enforcement authorities who have charged him with related crimes."

Court documents list Whelchel as a resident of Highland, but his attorney told CNN that he has moved out of the state.

Court records do not show any prior criminal history in Utah for Whelchel.