GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A Texas man who fired a shot at a group of protesters after Thursday's Richard Spencer speech at the University of Florida and the two men who encouraged him to open fire have been charged with attempted homicide, Gainesville police said.
Tyler Tenbrink, 28, fired the shot, after he and two brothers in a silver Jeep shouted obscenities, threats and chants about Hitler at the protesters, who were at a bust stop on SW Archer Road, police said. Tenbrink has also been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
According to the arrest report, William Fears, 30, and Colton Fears, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, shouted “I'm going to f****** kill you,” “kill them” and “shoot them,” before Tenbrink fired the shot, which missed and hit a nearby building.
Police said that as the Jeep sped off, one of the protesters was able to get the license plate and reported it to investigators, who relayed it to law enforcement in the area. An off-duty deputy with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office spotted the Jeep with the matching Texas tag around 9 p.m. on I-75 about 20 miles north of Gainesville.
Units from the Alachua Police Department, the High Springs Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol conducted a high-risk felony stop on the Jeep at the 405 Mile Marker of I-75 North and took the three men into custody, police said.
“I am amazed that immediately after being shot at, a victim had the forethought to get the vehicle’s license number” Gainesville police spokesman Officer Ben 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.”
According to police, just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the men in the Jeep stopped to argue with the group of protesters on SW Archer Road and one of the passengers yelled “Hail Hitler” and other chants.
The protesters argued back and one of them hit the rear window of the Jeep with a baton, according to the arrest report.
The Jeep then pulled about 10 feet away, stopped again and Tenbrink got out and pulled a handgun on the protesters as the Fears brothers egged him on, police said.
At least two of the three have shown connections to extremist groups, according to Gainesville police.
The three remain in the Alachua County Jail. The Fears brothers are each being held on $1 million bond and Tenbrink is under a $3 million bond.
Tenbrink's previous conviciton was for assault on a family or household member in 2014. He pleaded guilty/no contest.