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Donald Trump criticizes Colorado Springs fire marshal for keeping supporters out of rally

By: MEGAN SCHRADER, MATT STEINER and Jakob Rodgers The Gazette
July 29, 2016 Updated: July 29, 2016 at 9:05 pm
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Donald J. Trump speaks at the Gallogly Events Center at UCCS on Friday, July 29, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

Thousands of people lined up for hours Friday to see Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and many went home disappointed after the campaign significantly over-ticketed the event and then blamed the Colorado Springs fire marshal for refusing to allow in more spectators.

"I have to tell you this is why our country doesn't work," Trump began his hourlong speech in the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Gallogly Events center. "We have thousands of people next door. We have a fire marshal who said, 'Oh, we can't allow more people.' And it really is so unfair to the people. I'm so sorry. I have to apologize, but it's not my fault."

Officials from the university and Fire Marshal Brett Lacey both fired back.

"We weren't the ones that picked the venue. I would say it was just poor planning," Lacey said. "All the facilities in town, when they're designed and built, they have an occupant load limit."

UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said the 1,500-person capacity of Gallogly Events Center was included in the contract signed by Trump's campaign. An overflow room was set up in nearby Berger Hall for 1,000 people to watch the speech on television.

"The campaign handled all the ticketing and more tickets were issued than the space available," Shockley-Zalabak said.

A source familiar with the campaign's plans said 10,000 tickets were issued online for the event.

Trump went to the overflow room and addressed the crowd. "If you get the worst report that you have diarrhea, if you have one week to live, I don't care. Get out and vote," he said, after his speech. "If everyone gets out and votes, we can't lose."

Trump accused Lacey of supporting Hillary Clinton.

Lacey took it in stride.

"I did get a phone call requesting an increase in the load, so we allowed a 10 percent increase," he said. "That's not a huge amount, but it allowed 150 more in the one building and 100 more in the other."

Brian Pharies, 54, raved about the presidential hopeful's decision to address people in the overflow room. "That was absolutely brilliant," Pharies said. "He's a very people person."

Others who waited in vain for hours to see Trump weren't as supportive of the campaign.

With both the main event hall and the overflow room at capacity, Victor Dirello, 21, stood next to Trump supporters as they argued with and yelled at protesters opposed to Trump's visit. He got tickets Wednesday to ensure he had a spot.

"I really wanted to see my man," said Dirello, of Colorado Springs. "I figured they would have done it in a better spot."

Asked if he still supported Trump despite being left out of the event, Dirello wasted no time.

"Oh yeah."

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