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Colton Fears enters plea deal over shooting after Richard Spencer rally

August 21, 2018

State prosecutors secured a plea deal Monday from a man charged in connection with a shooting that happened following white nationalism activist Richard Spencer’s appearance at the University of Florida last fall.

Colton Fears, 29, has pled guilty to being an accessory to attempted first-degree murder and agreed to testify against a co-defendant also charged in the Oct. 19 shooting, Tyler Tenbrink, 29, according to documents filed in Alachua County Circuit Court.

Circuit Judge James M. Colaw accepted the plea deal Monday and agreed to defer sentencing until Mr. Fears is finished cooperating in the state’s case against Mr. Tenbrink, the documents said.

A resident of Pasadena, Texas, Mr. Fears faces a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment regardless of whether he fulfills his end of the agreement, according to the court filings.

Jury selection in the case against Mr. Tenbrink, of Richmond, Texas, is currently slated to start Nov. 13. He faces one count of attempted first-degree homicide and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The charges brought against Mr. Fears and Mr. Tenbrink involve an incident that happened shortly after Mr. Spencer, a white nationalism activist, finished speaking at an event held on the university’s Gainesville campus his first public appearance in the aftermath of participating in last summer’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally hardly two months earlier.

The occupants of a vehicle driven by Mr. Tenbrink became involved in an argument with a group of protesters gathered a nearby bus stop immediately after Mr. Spencer’s event concluded. Mr. Tenbrink is accused of firing a single shot from a handgun, missing the protesters but striking a nearby business, Gainesville Police Department Detective Juan DeCastro said previously.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office subsequently stopped Mr. Tenbrink’s automobile around 20 miles outside of Gainesville, and the driver admitted to police afterwards that he fired the lone shot, Det. DeCastro wrote in an arrest report.

Mr. Fears allegedly yelled “kill them” and “shoot them” before Mr. Tenbrink opened fire, according to the arrest report.

Authorities feared Mr. Spencer’s campus visit would prompt violent protests in the wake of his appearance at the Aug. 12 “Unite the Right” rally, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott preemptively declared a state of emergency before the event took place. Alcachua County later said it spent around $302,000 on related security costs.

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