Fact Check: NJ Trump Supporter Was NOT Attacked Due To His Political Beliefs -- It Was Personal Dispute

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: NJ Trump Supporter Was NOT Attacked Due To His Political Beliefs -- It Was Personal Dispute Non-Political

Was a Trump supporter in New Jersey attacked in early April 2024 because of his political beliefs? No, that's not true: Middletown Township, New Jersey, police told Lead Stories "there is no political tie-in" in the sledgehammer attack on Rocky Granata, who is known for driving around in an RV adorned with pro-Donald Trump and Make America Great Again messages. The man charged with the assault knew Granata.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X (formerly Twitter) by RG on April 7, 2024, under the on-screen title "64-Year-Old New Jersey Man Who Operates Trump RV Beaten with Sledgehammer, Airlifted to Hospital with 'Significant Head Injuries.'" The post's caption said:

Beating and murder of innocent people based on political beliefs are MORE COMMON PLACE

Arm Yourselves! Liberals are Insane!

64-Year-Old New Jersey Man Who Operates Trump RV Beaten with Sledgehammer, Airlifted to Hospital with 'Significant Head Injuries'

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Apr 9 14:39:42 2024 UTC)

The headline comes from an article (archived here) published in The Gateway Pundit on April 7, 2024.

The incident

The attack occurred on April 5, 2024, in Middletown Township. A news release (archived here) from Middletown police said (emphasis added by Lead Stories):

[O]fficers discovered a 64-year-old man from Edison with significant injuries to his head. The suspect, Michael Gonzales, 36, of Philadelphia, had been detained by witnesses at the scene and was promptly taken into custody by police.

Investigation showed that Gonzales had struck the victim in the head multiple times with a hand-held sledgehammer. The victim was transported by medivac helicopter to Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. During the course of that attack, the suspect also pushed a female, causing her to fall and sustain injuries as well. The female victim was transported by ambulance to Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. Police are not identifying either victim at this time. Police advised that this incident was not a random attack as Gonzales is connected to both victims.

Gonzalez is being charged with one count of Attempted Murder, one count of Aggravated Assault, as well as Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purposes.

Additionally, Middletown Deputy Chief Paul Bailey told Lead Stories in an April 9, 2024, phone call that "there is no political tie-in to the situation whatsoever." He added that politics were not the motive and played no part in the incident.

Social media

While police did not name the victims -- Rocky Granata and Gonzales' mother Donna DiMeo-Eiden -- several social media posts confirmed their identities. Cathy Murawski tagged (archived here) Granata in a post on Facebook the day of the attack, saying this about the incident and confirming the non-political nature of it (emphasis added by Lead Stories):

My friend Rocky Granata from the Trump Trailer was hit in the head and now recovering ..
It wasn't about Trump at all , just a dispute

Separately, a person who appears to be Granata's son posted (archived here) directly to his account. He said:

Donna's son Michael Gonzales Michael Gonzales tried to murder my father today with a hammer to the head 5 times hit my father Rocky Granata. This is an attempted murder. The kid needs to be sentenced to jail or mental institution. Donna and her son are a constant hazard to my family and my father. She constantly verbally and physically harasses my father, threaten to kills him and confiscates his property and steal his money. Both of them need to be arrested and charged for there crimes. Help spread the word.

Both posts appear below:


(Source: Facebook screenshots taken on Tue Apr 9 2024 UTC)

A post (archived here) on Gonzales' Facebook account from May 23, 2023, provided his mother's full name, Donna DiMeo-Eiden. His comment said:

Donna DiMeo-Eiden I love you mom I'm on my way to my Doctors office

Here's what the post looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-04-09 at 9.38.34 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Apr 9 17:47:48 2024 UTC)

According to a report from New Jersey radio station WKXW (archived here), Granata stated that Gonzales is the son of his girlfriend of five years, implying that DiMeo-Eiden is his girlfriend.

Rocky Granata

Following the incident, Granata posted several times to his Facebook account, showing the personal nature of the relationship between those involved. On the day of the attack, he said (archived here):

Please do not threaten Donna!

Then on April 9, 2023, Granata posted (archived here) pictures and a video, with the injuries to his skull visible. The post's caption said:

Prayers for Michael His Mom Donna n me!
GodBless all!

Here's what the Facebook post looked like at the time of writing:


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Apr 9 17:47:48 2024 UTC)

In the video, Granata delivered a personal message to everyone involved. He said:

All right, I'm over here in New Jersey. The doctors told me I need to really relax, take it easy. They say I have a concussion. ... Listen, I have nothing against Michael. Michael needs help. It's been a lot of pressure here. I ain't looking to put him in jail. I just want him to get help. And we need to reunite. ... Let's go make peace throughout the world. God bless.

The video of his message is embedded below:

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Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims involving Donald Trump can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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