clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 white supremacists arrested in Florida for shooting at anti-racism protesters

The shooting happened after a Richard Spencer speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Mugshots of the men who allegedly shot at anti-racism protesters in Gainesville, Florida.
Mugshots of the men who allegedly shot at anti-racism protesters in Gainesville, Florida.
Gainesville Police Department

The aftermath of white nationalist Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville turned violent on Thursday when three white supremacists allegedly shot at anti-racism protesters.

According to the Gainesville Police Department, 28-year-old Tyler Tenbrink, 30-year-old William Fears, and 28-year-old Colton Fears, all from Texas, are now held on charges of attempted homicide for shooting at the group of protesters.

Police said that the trio stopped by the group of protesters shortly before 5:30 pm on Thursday, allegedly threatening the protesters, doing Nazi salutes, and shouting chants about Hitler. Tenbrink then reportedly pulled out a firearm, and the Fears brothers told him to shoot it at the protesters. He fired once, but missed (no one was hurt).

Then the trio fled in a jeep. But the trio’s vehicle tag number was reported, and they were caught a few hours later.

As ThinkProgress reported, Tenbrink and the Fears brothers have a history of racism. William Fears was featured in a Washington Post article about white supremacists, while his brother’s now-deleted Twitter account included racist comments. And Tenbrink was reportedly an active member of the “White Lives Matter” movement in Houston, and he was interviewed by local media in Gainesville before the shooting.

This is far from the first white supremacist attack this year. In September, police charged 23-year-old Kenneth James Gleason with first-degree murder for allegedly killing two black people in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; police found a speech by Adolf Hitler, along with other evidence, in Gleason’s home. In August, a Nazi sympathizer ran his car into a crowd of counterprotesters during a racist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — an event also backed by Spencer — and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was there to stand against hate and bigotry.

In fact, while the media spends a lot of time focused on jihadist terrorism, the data suggests that right-wing extremists, including white supremacists, are more likely to attempt and carry out terrorism in America. (Although, overall, there are still very few terrorist acts in the US.)

A chart of domestic terrorism incidents by type. Scott Pham/Reveal

Yet critics, including former US Attorney General Eric Holder, argue that the federal government has historically dedicated more resources to fighting Islamist terrorism.

The trend is why counterterrorism experts have called on US officials to pay far more attention to the radicalization of white Americans into right-wing radicals. For more on that, read Vox’s explainer.