Gainesville police have arrested three men they say are responsible for the shooting after Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida on Thursday.
Tyler Tenbrink, 28; William Henry Fears, 30; and Colton Gene Fears, 28, all face attempted homicide charges, according to jail records.
Tenbrink, who police said had the gun, is a convicted felon. Police said that at least two of the men have shown ties to extremist groups. Tenbrink is from Richmond, Texas, and the Fears from Pasadena, Texas.
Police got a report just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday that men in a silver Jeep began to argue with a group of protestors near a bus stop on Southwest Archer Road. Police said the men "began threatening, offering Nazi salutes, and chants about Hitler." A protestor then "used a baton to hit the rear window" of the Jeep as the argument continued, according to a police report.
The car drove about 10 feet and stopped. Police said that's when Tenbrink got out of the car and took out a handgun while the Fears brothers yelled "shoot them" and "kill them," according to the report. Tenbrink also said, "I'm going (expletive) kill you," the report said.
Tenbrink fired a single shot toward someone in the group, police said. It missed them and struck a nearby building. The Jeep fled the scene, but someone from the group was able to take down its plate number.
More than 1,000 law enforcement officers monitored roughly 2,500 demonstrators outside of white nationalist Spencer's speech on Thursday afternoon. There were no reported injuries.
In an interview with The Gainesville Sun, William Fears told a reporter that he sided with James Fields, who drove his car into a crowd of protesters as tensions built in Charlottesville, Va. following a Spencer-led white nationalist rally.
"I don't want to glorify what (Fields) did, but at the same time, I wasn't surprised it happened," Fears told the newspaper. "It was eventually going to happen ... They threw the first blow so I'm going to take his side."
He also told The Sun "it appears the only answer left is violence, and nobody wants that."
Because of the amount of law enforcement already at the Spencer event, police and the FBI were able to quickly identify the car.
A video taken by a Tampa Bay Times reporter following Spencer's speech appears to show Tenbrink getting surrounded by protestors before he hopped over a fence.
An off-duty Alachua County Sheriff's deputy spotted the men's Jeep when he stopped during his drive home to continue the search. The Jeep was stopped on Interstate 75 North and the men were arrested about 20 miles outside of Gainesville late Thursday night.
"I am amazed that immediately after being shot at, a victim had the forethought to get the vehicle's license number," Gainesville Officer Ben Tobias said in a prepared statement. "That key piece of information allowed officials from every level of multiple agencies to quickly identify and arrest these persons."
The Fears brothers were each being held on a $1 million dollar bail in Alachua County Jail as of Friday. Tenbrink's bail was set at $3 million.
Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.