Three arrested for shooting at protesters after Florida white supremacist event
CHIP SOMODEVILLA (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives)
Three men in Florida were arrested and charged with attempted homicide after giving Nazi salutes and chanting "Hail Hitler" before shooting into a crowd of protesters less than two hours after white nationalist Richard Spencer finished speaking at a controversial appearance at the University of Florida on Thursday.
The three men were identified as Tyler Tenbrink, 28, and brothers William Fears, 30 and Colton Fears, 28, all from Texas, who had driven to Gainesville to attend Spencer's speech.
Police said that the incident occurred about a mile south of where Spencer was speaking. The men were photographed and seen in media interviews outside the venue, and at least two of the suspects were known to have links to extremist groups, police spokesman Ben Tobais said.
Convicted felon Tyler Tenbrink, who police say fired the gun into the crowd of six to eight protesters, told The Gainesville Sun hours before the shooting: "I’m disappointed in the course of things. It appears that the only answer left is violence, and nobody wants that."
William Fears told CNN prior to the incident: "They don't have to fear us. It's always the left that brings the violence."
A researcher at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Center for Extremism told The Guardian newspaper that Tenbrink has attended at least seven other white supremacist events while William Fears has been affiliated with white nationalist groups including Vanguard America and the Patriot Movement.
All three men were present at the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in August, organized in part by Spencer, that was wracked by violence and the death of a counter-protester who was allegedly mowed down by a white supremacist.
Spencer, a leader of the so-called alt-right movement that includes white supremacists, neo-Nazis and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan, has repeatedly said that he and his supporters are not violent accusing those who protest against him of being the real threat.
Spencer advocates the establishment of a white ethno-state in the United States and has been accused of anti-Semitism. He was twice been filmed giving Hitler salutes, including once shouting “Heil Trump!”.
Fearing a repeat of clashes between far-right demonstrators and anti-fascist protesters, security was tight for Spencer's speech, with police flooding the streets and Florida governor Rick Scott declaring a state of emergency in the area.
Only around 30 supporters of the controversial white nationalist made it into the University of Florida auditorium at Gainesville on Thursday, massively outnumbered by protesters who chanted "No more Spencer!"
As he stepped on to the stage, Spencer was greeted with a chorus of angry and profanity-laced jeers and chants, drowning out his voice.
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