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Rep. Craig on attack: 'He wasn't going to let me out of that elevator if I hadn't fought my way out'

The Minnesota Democrat described the assault in detail for the first time during an interview with KARE 11's Jana Shortal.

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — Days after she was attacked at her Washington D.C. apartment building, Congresswoman Angie Craig is opening up about what happened for the first time.

"I was assaulted violently, punched in the face. He grabbed my neck. He wasn't going to let me out of that elevator if I hadn't fought my way out," Rep. Craig said.

Craig, a Democrat serving her third term representing Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, had cuts and bruising from the Feb. 9 assault, but she was able to return to work at the Capitol that day.

What happened to Rep. Craig did not appear to be about her politics, but that doesn't erase its impact.

"I came down to get my coffee from the lobby of the apartment building I live in Washington when I'm there and there was someone there who was acting erratically in the lobby. Immediately I got my coffee and got back in the elevator as fast as I could," Craig described. "I didn't realize at first that he had followed me into the elevator. He jumped down on the elevator floor and started doing pushups. I immediately stopped our progress because I wanted to get him to get out of the elevator. I asked him sternly to get out of the elevator and he became very agitated at that point."

It was at that point that she said things got physical.

"He stopped me from getting out of the elevator myself, got in my face, stepped in front of the buttons," Craig said. "Wouldn't allow us to go up, wouldn't allow me to open and indicated that I needed to take him to my apartment. I think it was at that moment where I realized this was not going to be something that I could reason with someone on and that's when I started fighting back."

Craig said the events of that morning happened quickly.

"I don't know that I had time to be scared. When he demanded to go to my apartment all I knew is there is no way in hell that is going to happen," Rep. Craig said. "He grabbed my neck. He grabbed me from behind and one point, tried to pull me away again from the buttons, from my collarbone ... I had a cup of hot coffee in my hand because that is why I was in the lobby to begin with and I reached over, poured the hot coffee on him as he was attempting to pull me back away from the buttons."

They fought for a few more moments when the door opened, and she ran; he tried to pull her back in the elevator.

"At that point, I jumped out and started screaming for help. I was not going to let him get me into my apartment," Craig said.

Out of the elevator, she ran and called 911, and then another call, to her wife Cheryl Greene.

"She was just sobbing, I thought someone had died," Greene recalled. "I didn't know what was happening."

What was happening was the very thing the couple and their sons worry about constantly: harm coming her way. But the fear was based on the threats that members of Congress face daily, not on a random crime.

"I think what happened to me happens to people, especially women, every single day in our country, it just happened to happen to me last Thursday morning and I also just happen to be a member of Congress," Rep. Craig said.

Back home in Minnesota and five days into her healing, Rep. Craig said she will return to work to get help for people facing homelessness, addiction problems, or in need of mental health support, like the man now charged with assaulting her.

"This individual is homeless and has mental health and addiction issues. He is also someone who has been violent now 13 times," Rep. Craig said. "How could I not go back (to Washington), because the intersection of all these issues is what I am asked to work on every single day in Congress. How could I not go back?"

The suspect, identified by DC Metropolitan Police as Kendrick Hamline, 26, was charged Monday with assaulting a member of Congress, which could carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison if convicted.

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