3 Texas men arrested after shot fired at white nationalist protesters, police say

2 brothers encouraged accused shooter, shouted Nazi chants, police say

Booking photos of Tyler Tenbrink, Colton Fears and William Fears
Booking photos of Tyler Tenbrink, Colton Fears and William Fears

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Police in Florida arrested three Texas men in connection with a shot fired at a group of protesters after Thursday's speech at the University of Florida by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Tyler Tenbrink, 28, fired the shot after he and two brothers in a Jeep shouted obscenities, threats and chants about Hitler at the protesters, who were at a bus stop in Gainsville, Florida, police said. Tenbrink is charged with attempted homicide and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to a arrest report, William Fears, 30, and Colton Fears, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, shouted, "I'm going to (expletive) kill you," "Kill them" and "Shoot them," before Tenbrink fired the shot, which missed and hit a nearby building.

Related: Protesters heckle Richard Spencer at Univ. of Florida talk


Police said 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 Interstate 75 about 20 miles north of Gainesville.

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."

Related: State of emergency declared ahead of white supremacist speech in Florida

According to police, the men in the Jeep stopped to argue with the group of protesters on SW Archer Road just before 5:30 p.m., when 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, the report said.

The Jeep pulled about 10 feet away, stopped again and that's when 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 men have shown connections to extremist groups, Gainesville police said.

The three are behind held in the Alachua County Jail. 

The Fears brothers are being held on $1 million bond each, and Tenbrink is being held on a $3 million bond.

Tenbrink's previous conviction was for assault on a family or household member in 2014. He pleaded guilty/no contest.

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