Authorities in Florida breathed a sigh of relief after white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech in Gainesville went off with just minor hiccups on Thursday.
The University of Florida avoided the types of confrontations on other campuses that prompted Gov. Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency in Alachua County earlier this month.
A $600,000 security effort resulted in “a mostly peaceful day” in Hogtown, according to a joint press release issued by various law enforcement agencies involved.
According to the press release, the speech resulted in “minimal acts of violence” and two arrests.
But those arrests didn’t include an ugly off-campus confrontation that wound up with three Texas men, two of them brothers, behind bars.
According to a Gainesville Police Department report issued this morning, the Texans — aged 28 to 30 — a violent argument, which took place shortly after Spencer’s speech ended, resulted in gunfire.
Tyler Tenbrink, 28, of Richmond, Texas; William Fears, 30, and his brother, 28-year-old Colton Fears, both of Passadena, Texas, are all currently in the Alachua County Jail on charges of attempted homicide. Tenbrink is a convicted felon and faces additional charges of possession of a firearm by convicted felon. The Fears brothers are being held on $1 million bond, and Tenbrink is on $3 million bond.
At least two of the three have shown connections to extremist groups, according to a press release issued by the GPD this morning.
Here’s what went down, according to the release:
Shortly before 5:30pm, it was reported that a silver Jeep stopped to argue with a group of protesters and began threatening, offering Nazi salutes and shouting chants about Hitler to the group that was near the bus stop. During the altercation, Tenbrink produced a handgun while the Fears brothers encouraged him to shoot at the victims. Tenbrink fired a single shot at the group which thankfully missed the group and struck a nearby building. The suspects then fled in a silver jeep.
One of the victims amazingly remained calm and was able to get the vehicle tag number and reported it immediately to law enforcement. Due to the Richard Spencer event, law enforcement resources from the local, state and Federal level were still operating in “Unified Command” which allowed local investigators and FBI analysts to quickly identify the vehicle and possible occupants. This information was immediately relayed to area law enforcement to look for the vehicle.
The Texans were nabbed later Thursday night on I-75 by an Alachua County deputy — with help from local police — on his way home from the Spencer event.
GPD spokesman Ben Tobias praised both the victim and the LEO handling of the situation.
“I am amazed that immediately after being shot at, a victim had the forethought to get the vehicle’s license number” Tobias said. “That key piece of information allowed officials from every level of multiple agencies to quickly identify and arrest these persons. This was an amazing team effort by everyone involved.”
Darnell said the incident and quick response “displays the true teamwork that went into yesterday’s Unified Command Center activation.”
“Information was quickly gathered and disseminated to all law enforcement partners involved and a potentially dangerous situation was averted quickly with the arrests,” she said.