A newly revealed recording in which Democratic congressional candidate Nate McMurray warns a Grand Island councilman that he owns a gun is gaining scrutiny after both participants claim they felt intimidated by the other.
The Monday evening argument between McMurray, the Grand Island supervisor, and Republican Councilman Michael Madigan was reported in Friday’s editions of the Grand Island Dispatch. It stems from Madigan’s encounter with McMurray in the basement of Town Hall, where the councilman said he readied his cell phone recorder in anticipation of an incident.
Madigan claims McMurray cornered him outside the Council office; McMurray counters that Madigan was blocking his way in a continuing pattern of harassment. But while the recording shows levels of agitation without any physical altercation, Madigan views the incident as serious because of McMurray’s allusion to a gun.
“I think you’re sick. I think you really are,” McMurray says in the audio included on the Dispatch web site. “I have a gun. Don’t come to my house.”
Madigan then replies: “So, what is that, a threat?”
McMurray: “No, it’s self-defense.”
The audio comes to the forefront as McMurray continues his challenge to Republican Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence, who is under federal indictment for insider trading. It prompts McMurray to charge that Madigan, the unsuccessful GOP candidate against Rep. Brian Higgins in 2012, is escalating the seriousness of the incident for political purposes.
Madigan, meanwhile, says the supervisor’s mention of a gun caused him genuine concern.
“I wouldn’t characterize it particularly as violent,” Madigan said Friday, “but him bringing up the fact he has a gun after asking repeatedly if I was afraid — it does shake you up a bit.”
Both men acknowledge tension between them over several Grand Island matters that has intensified in recent weeks. Madigan said the supervisor “suddenly popped up in my face” following a Council meeting on Sept. 8, prompting him to air concerns to the town attorney.
The Monday event took place when Madigan said McMurray again unexpectedly confronted him.
“In your heart, do you care about anything?” McMurray asks Madigan on the audio. “Do you have, like, values you care about? Do you believe in God?”
But the supervisor has no problems in justifying his exchange with the councilman following months of frayed relations. On Monday he said Madigan was “lurking” in the hall and tried to block his way.
“I was trying to get to my office and he was blocking my way,” McMurray said. “I asked him: ‘Will you please get out of my way?’ ”
Following one recent meeting, McMurray said he found Madigan waiting for him in the parking lot. The latest encounter comprises a “stalking” pattern that McMurray said prompted him to issue the warning for Madigan to stay away from his house out of concern for the safety of his family.
“I have literally thought about getting a restraining order,” McMurray said. “He gets in my space; he gets in my presence.”
Though McMurray initially would not say if he owns a gun, he finally acknowledged he did when pressed. He said he was not anxious to call attention to any gun in his home, but added he is not afraid to defend his home and property.
“I don’t want him near my house or my kids,” he said about why he told Madigan he has a gun. “If he is physically intimidating me, there is nothing wrong in saying that.
“And if he felt threatened, why did he go to the newspaper and not the police?” he added.
Meanwhile, the incident is now entering the Collins-McMurray race, in which Collins continues as a strong advocate of gun rights.
“This obnoxious and borderline violent behavior displayed by Nate McMurray is nothing out of the ordinary,” said Collins campaign spokeswoman Natalie Baldassarre. “Whether it be his off-putting comments on social media or his unprofessional conduct during town meetings, it’s clear Nate needs to learn how to keep his emotions in check. This audio is deeply disturbing and further shows Nate is unhinged.”
McMurray said he questions Madigan’s involvement as someone with deep GOP ties who once ran for Congress.