- Gainesville Police Department
- Florida police have charged three Texas men with attempted murder after one of them allegedly shot at people protesting a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer. Police say the men made threats and Nazi salutes at the protesters. Florida officials had been worried Spencer’s talk would prompt violence – the University of Florida spent $500,000 on security for the event.
Three Texas men have been arrested in connection with a gunshot fired at protesters following a controversial speech at the University of Florida by white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Tyler Tenbrink, 30, William Fears, 30, and Colton Fears, 28, have all been charged with attempted murder, according to the Gainesville Police Department. The Fears brothers are being held on $1 million bonds and Tenbrink, who faces additional charges for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, is being held on $3 million.
Police reports said the men drove up in a silver Jeep to a group of people protesting Spencer’s talk on Thursday afternoon. The men then began “threatening, offering Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler” at the protesters, according to police.
During the confrontation, police said, Tenbrink pulled out a handgun as the Fears brothers urged him to shoot at the protesters. Tenbrink then fired a single shot, missing the protesters and striking a nearby building, police said. The men then fled the scene in their Jeep, the police reports said.
One of the protesters, who “amazingly remained calm,” noted the Jeep’s tag number and reported the incident to police, who located the vehicle hours later and arrested all three men.
Florida officials had feared that Spencer’s talk could prompt an outbreak in violence. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over the speech, and the university spent roughly $500,000 on security for the event.
Tenbrink and William Fears also attended the infamous white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, at which one woman was killed after a white supremacist mowed down pedestrians with his vehicle, the Miami Herald reported.
William Fears has even spoken about his beliefs to media, recently telling The Washington Post that his radicalization occurred within the last year, after Hillary Clinton condemned the so-called alt-right movement during a campaign speech last year.
“Things are life and death now, and if you’re involved in this movement, you have to be willing to die for it now,” he told the newspaper shortly after the Charlottesville rally.