Days after authorities dropped charges against a white supremacist for the attempted murder of anti-racist protesters, they arrested him for alleged domestic violence.
William Fears IV was one of three men arrested for allegedly trying to shoot people who had gathered to protest a speech by the white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida in October. Fears, his brother Colton, and their friend Tyler Tenbrink allegedly gave Nazi salutes and shouted pro-Hitler slogans, until the Fears brothers allegedly urged Tenbrink to shoot at the protesters. Tenbrink missed, and the three men were charged with attempted murder. But if Fears goes to prison, it will be for a domestic violence charge from several days before the shooting.
Fears has a history of violence at white supremacist events. In an essay for Vice, journalist Erin Corbett described Fears as sexually harassing her at Unite the Right, a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. Corbett described Fears as marching with the fascist group Vanguard America. Also among the Vanguard America contingent that day was James Fields, a man accused of driving a car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters at the rally, killing one and injuring many more.
During that deadly rally, Fears reportedly urged fellow white nationalists to violence. “Shoot!” he reportedly shouted, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Fire the first shot of the race war!”
Two months later, outside the Spencer speech at the University of Florida, Fears allegedly encouraged violence again. Fears, his brother, and Tenbrink approached anti-Spencer protesters in a Jeep and launched into pro-Hitler chants, according to a Gainesville, Florida police statement.
“During the altercation, Tenbrink produced a handgun while the Fears brothers encouraged him to shoot at the victims,” police said in the statement. “Tenbrink fired a single shot at the group which thankfully missed the group and struck a nearby building. The suspects then fled in a silver jeep.”
Police booked the trio later that day, after a protester captured the Jeep’s license plate before it sped off. All three were charged with attempted murder: charges that stuck until last week, when the Florida State Attorney’s office dropped the case against Fears, on the grounds that they did not have enough evidence to go to trial.
But on Monday, a Texas judge ordered Fears’ arrest on an older domestic violence charge, the SPLC first reported.
A criminal complaint in the case reveals that, five days before the Spencer rally, Fears’ girlfriend called Harris County, Texas police and accused Fears of attacking her. The woman told police Fears had accused her of cheating on her, and demanded he show her the contents of her phone, which was not charged. When he could not access the phone, Fears allegedly slapped the woman in the face. When she tried to flee, Fears allegedly pinned her to the ground and choked her until she vomited. The criminal complaint also notes Fears’ prior convictions for felony firearms sale and aggravated kidnapping.
Fears bailed out of jail shortly after his Monday arrest, although a judge hiked his bond to $25,000, court documents show. He won’t go to trial for attempted murder, but he’s due in court next month on the domestic violence charge.