Brian Sebring is a 44-year-old man who has been arrested after police say he opened fire on a stranger over an argument about President Trump and felons being allowed to vote.
The whole dispute began in a Facebook conversation, where Sebring and 46-year-old Alex Stephens reportedly became embroiled in tense cyber-dispute over the current political administration.
Per the Tampa Bay Times, Sebring now faces felony charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Sebring Is a Registered Democrat Who Was Allegedly ‘Badmouthing Felons Who Couldn’t Vote’ Online
The dispute reportedly began over a comment Sebring added to a friend’s post about Trump. The post has since been removed, but the Tampa Bay Times reports that a Facebook user described Sebring’s comment as having to do with felons who couldn’t vote.
Sebring was allegedly responding directly to a felon who had wrote the post to begin with, arguing that he wanted to share his political opinion “even though he lost the right to vote.”
Sebring’s comment, per the Tampa Bay Times, read, “If you want to voice your opinion, don’t do criminal activity, don’t get caught, be a productive member of society.”
Sebring received hundreds of responses, but then Stephens began to privately message Sebring under the account name Dusty Rhodes. Though it’s unclear to what extent Trump specifically was involved, Daily Mail reports that Sebring often shares posts that criticize Trump via Facebook.
2. In Private Facebook Messages, Stephens Allegedly Threatened to Harm Sebring’s Wife & Autistic Son
Stephens and Sebring began to engage in a mutually threatening message thread, per the Tampa Bay Times and Sebring’s account. Sebring claims Stephens threatened harm to his wife and son, and a screenshot captured by the Times reveals Sebring threatening “to empty a full 5.56 magazine into your head.”
3. Both Sebring & Stephens Have Criminal Records
Sebring and Stephens both have criminal records, but Sebring has retained the right to vote. Stephens has a felony record, and has served time in prison on charges of robbery and cocaine possession, while Sebring pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery charges and has attended anger management classes in the past.
Sebring and Stephens also both attended the same high school, though at different times, which is why they have so many mutual friends.
4. Sebring Said He ‘Just Snapped,’ Drove Over to Stephen’s House With a Handgun & an AR-15
To the Tampa Bay Times, Sebring said, “I just snapped and let primal rage take over.”
Sebring reportedly drove to his house, packed both his handgun and his AR-15, and drove over to Stephen’s home, beeping the car horn. He then claims that Stephen opened his door and began to run at him “like a linebacker.” Tampa Police have confirmed that Stephen ran at Sebring first.
However, there are conflicting reports about whether or not Stephens had a weapon. Sebring has claimed that he had a “steak knife” in his hand that made him “scared,” while police have not commented on any weapon held by Stephen.
Upon seeing Sebring’s weaponry, Stephens reportedly turn around and began to run away, and Sebring reportedly shot him twice, once in the butt and once in the legs.
5. Sebring Says The Event Has ‘Ruined His Life’ as Well as His Family’s
In addition to the felony charges that Sebring faces, he told the Tampa Bay Times that he has been the target of social media trolling across the country. He said, “Now my mother is too afraid to leave the house, my sons are afraid to walk to school or church, all because of some keyboard gangsters.”
Sebring added, “I’m not a bad guy, but I mean, this guy threatened to hurt my family, and I went off the deep end. I wasn’t thinking right. You know, after this I’m going to go see a therapist or something, man, because that’s some scary s—, that I could lose my temper like that and do something so stupid.”