GAINESVILLE, Florida — Three white supremacists were arrested Thursday for allegedly shooting at protesters holding anti-Nazi signs following Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida.
Colton Fears, 28, and his brother William, 30, from Pasadena, Texas, and Tyler Tenbrink, 28, from Richmond, Texas, were charged with attempted homicide and are being held in Alachua County Jail. Tenbrink, already a felon, was slapped with an additional charge for possessing a weapon.
The incident took place shortly before 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, about an hour after Spencer’s speech wrapped up. Four men in a silver Jeep pulled up to where a group of protesters were sitting at a bus stop, not far from campus, and started shouting “Heil Hitler” and other slogans, according to police reports. In response, one of the protesters struck the vehicle with a baton. The car then sped about 10 feet away before stopping abruptly.
Tenbrink exited the vehicle, according to the report, and pointed a handgun at the group. The Fears brothers began shouting “Kill them,” “Shoot them,” and “I’m going to fucking kill you,” according to the report.
Tenbrink fired one bullet, which missed the victim and hit the building behind him, according to the report. The three men then got back into the car and fled eastbound, where they were ultimately apprehended by Alachua County deputies. Tenbrink later told police he was the one who’d fired the shot. The fourth person in the car wasn’t charged.
All three men were seen milling around the vicinity of where Spencer’s speech took place.
Colton Fears, wearing black, told a group of reporters that he’d traveled to Gainesville (He’s from Pasadena) because he’s a “white male who’s been demonized for being a white male.”
“In Charlottesville, I was covered in hydrochloric acid just for being white,” Fears said. “They said ‘Fuck white supremacy’ and poured hydrochloric acid over me.” Fears also waxed lyrical about Spencer. “He sounds like he’s writing a book when he talks,” Fears said.
His brother, William Fears — in the uniform of the so-called alt-right, a white shirt and khakis — said he and his brother came to Gainesville because they “wanted to trigger people, piss people off.”
After the speech ended, protesters swarmed anyone they suspected of being a white supremacist. Officers helped Tenbrink over barricades and appeared to place handcuffs on him, which placated the crowd, and escorted him away. At first, the protesters had accused law enforcement of protecting white supremacists.
William Fears was part of a group who slept out by a Dallas Confederate monument in the aftermath of Charlottesville and told the Chicago Tribune that he self-identified as a Nazi. “Nazi is like the N-word for white people,” Fears said. “And I just embrace it.” On Thursday, he and his brother had tempered their rhetoric, insisting they were “white nationalists” — like Spencer calls himself.
The Fears brothers are each being held on $1 million bond and Tenbrink under a $3 million bond.
Gainesville had been bracing itself for the possibility of violence, like what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August. In the end, a massive militarized police presence and hordes of protesters lead to a diminished white supremacist presence, by comparison. But violence moments happened, nonetheless.
A neo-Nazi got punched, and two others were arrested earlier in the day. Sean Brijmohan, 38, from Orlando Florida, was charged with possession of a firearm on school property. He had also secured media credentials, although he didn’t appear to be with any outlet. David Notte, 34, from Gainesville, Florida, was charged with resisting an officer without violence. Five minor injuries were reported and treated at the scene.