By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Wyoming Republican Party official was hospitalized over the weekend after a fight with another party official during the party’s convention this weekend left him with injuries.
The Gillette Police Department said it cited Michael Pearce, chairman of the Albany County Republican Party, for assault and battery following his altercation with Joey Correnti, chairman of the Carbon County GOP.
According to a news release issued by the department, around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, police responded to a report of a fight at Gillette’s Wyoming Center.
Officers made contact with Michael Pearce, who was seated outside after the altercation. They learned Pearce and Correnti became involved in a verbal confrontation.
The confrontation escalated until the two men walked outside of the Wyoming Center, at which time Pearce struck Correnti in the head with his fist, the release said. In defense, Correnti took Pearce to the ground and held him there until someone intervened.
Correnti described Pearce as being intoxicated and Pearce admitted to having some drinks, the release said.
As a result of the fight, Pearce received injuries that required treatment and Correnti reported damage to his glasses and hearing aid.
Witness reports confirmed Pearce was responsible for the escalation of the situation and Correnti was defending himself.
“Mr. (Pearce) did throw a punch that connected with Mr. Correnti’s face,” state Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, who identified himself as a witness to the fight, wrote in a Facebook post. “Mr. Correnti then restrained Mr. (Pearce) while Mr. (Pearce) continued to fight him.”
Trinity Lewis, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Republican Party, said the group would issue an official statement on the altercation, but nothing had been issued as of early Monday afternoon.