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Three men charged in shooting after Richard Spencer speech

October 20, 2017 - 03:10 pm

Three men were charged with attempted homicide after they argued with a group of people protesting a white nationalist's speech in Gainesville, Florida, and fired a shot at them, police said Friday.

Shortly after Richard Spencer's speech Thursday at the University of Florida - which generated so much controversy that the governor declared a state of emergency days before the event - a silver Jeep pulled up to a group of protesters near a bus stop and started to argue with them, according to the Gainesville Police Department.

The men threatened the group, making Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler, police said. One of the people hit the Jeep with a baton, and it pulled over. Tyler Tenbrink, 28, of Richmond, Texas, jumped out with a gun. A second passenger got out, and Colton Fears, 28, and William Fears, 30, of Pasadena, Texas, encouraged Tenbrink to shoot, according to the Alachua County Sheriff's arrest report, yelling, "I'm going to f-- kill you," and "Kill them," and "Shoot them."

Tenbrink fired a single shot that missed the people, police said, and hit a nearby building.

The three then fled in the Jeep, but one of the people who had been targeted got the license plate number and reported it to police. An off-duty sheriff's deputy who had worked at the Spencer event searched for and found the Jeep. The men were arrested about 20 miles north of Gainesville.

Tenbrink had come to UF for the speech.

"I came here to support Spencer because after Charlottesville (Virginia), the radical left threatened my family and children because I was seen and photographed in Charlottesville," Tenbrink told The Washington Post on Thursday. "The man's got the brass to say what nobody else will."

On Thursday, Tenbrink told The Post inside Spencer's event that he had come from Houston for the speech, and that all he cares about are the 14 words, a reference to a white-supremacist slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."

"That doesn't mean I hate all black people I see," Tenbrink said.

"And homosexuals, if they want to be homosexual, keep it to yourself. Nobody wants to see that s---," he said.

Gainesville police confirmed Friday the arrests were related to the event.

At least two of the three who were arrested have demonstrated connections to extremist groups, police said.

Tenbrink, Colton Fears and William Fears were charged with attempted homicide and are in the Alachua County Jail. Tenbrink faces additional charges for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Tenbrink admitted that he was the shooter, according to the Alachua County Sheriff's arrest report.