Two men — one a registered Democrat and the other a Trump supporter — had a political argument on Facebook on Monday.
When things got heated, the registered Democrat took the argument off the internet, showed up at the Trump supporter’s house with a Glock and an AR-15, and shot him in the thigh and buttocks, according to police.
The Facebook argument occurred Monday night in Tampa, leading to the shooting and subsequent arrest of Brian Sebring, 44, of 4412 Leila Ave, on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm.
Tampa Bay Times reports: Alex Stephens, 46, of 3002 Wallace Ave., was the victim, police said, though he may have had a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric. Sebring told officers Stephens threatened him.
Tyler Travis, a Facebook user who witnessed the exchange, told the Times that Sebring was “badmouthing felons who couldn’t vote.”
Sebring, a registered Democrat, said he was responding to a felon who wrote that “even though he lost the right to vote, he wanted to share his political opinion.”
Sebring characterized his reply as, “If you want to voice your opinion, don’t do criminal activity, don’t get caught, be a productive member of society.”
He said the comment drew hundreds of responses.
But Stephens, who has a Facebook account under the name Dusty Rhodes (not the late wrestler), took the argument to Sebring’s private Messenger account, Sebring said.
Stephens has a felony record and served stints in state prison on charges that include robbery and cocaine possession. His latest term ended in 2016.
Sebring had also been arrested but had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery charges and attended an anger management class. He retained voting rights.
He looked up Stephens’ criminal record before their Monday encounter, Sebring said.
Stephens knew where he lived, Sebring said, and had threatened harm to his wife and autistic son.
Stephens sent Sebring his address and told him to “come on over” if he wanted a fight, and to beep the horn if and when he showed up, Sebring said.
Sebring said he dug at Stephens, too.
In a screen grab obtained by the Times, Sebring wrote, “Dude I’m going to empty a full 5.56 magazine into your head,” followed by, “You really want me to come to your (house).”
“I just snapped and let primal rage take over,” Sebring said Wednesday.
Sebring said he drove to the home he shares with his 68-year-old mother, wife and two sons, armed himself with the guns and then parked his truck in the street outside Stephens’ home.
When Sebring honked, he said, the 6-foot, 230-pound Stephens came running “like a linebacker.”
Tampa police previously have reported Sebring’s initial account that the other man charged him.
“I told him, ‘Man, you better stop, man, I got a gun,’ but he kept running,” Sebring said. “It looked like he was holding a steak knife in his hand and I got scared. When I shot him, he dropped it and ran back in the house.”
Police spokesman Steve Hegarty said Thursday there was no mention of a knife by either man. Nor did either man say the victim had a gun.
Travis, who is Stephens’ friend, said Stephens told him he was shot in the butt turning away, ducked behind a tree, and then was shot again in the legs as he retreated into the house.
Sebring said he was nearly home when he spotted a police cruiser and parked his truck. He emptied his guns and told the officer what he had done.
Both Sebring and Stephens attended Robinson High School, but not at the same time. They share multiple friends on Facebook, some of whom have joined the growing Internet debate on Sebring’s actions.
“I know both of these two and got to witness quite a bit of the fall out,” reader Shonia Cruz Munoz posted on a Times story. “The victim IS the victim — let’s leave it at that…. Threats were made but only one chose to use weapons. Only one chose to drive to someone’s home and open fire on him.’