After attempting to pull a gun on a Black couple during a business meeting that turned sour in Mesa, Arizona, the white co-owner of a restaurant is now in police custody.
According to ABC 15, Tom Toot and the couple, Solomon Odubhao and Brittney Myers, were at the Chef’s Shared Kitchen discussing the pair’s exit from the prep kitchen on March 5. A surveillance camera inside the establishment recorded the incident. Toot told the couple that after 30 days, they could no longer use the kitchen. Odubhao and Myers operate a food truck called WhachaCookin.
At one point during the discussion, tensions rose, and Toot went to draw his weapon. Odubhao’s quick-thinking and reflexes allowed him to thwart the man’s aggressive attack. His wife called the police.
“He told us we were contaminating their whole kitchen,” Myers told ABC 15.
“I was like, cool, I’m not going to tolerate no disrespect towards me or my wife,” said Odubhao.
“Then he just reached for his gun,” the shaken woman continued. “I immediately braced myself like, ‘Oh my God, we are going to get shot.’”
“I went with my instincts,” said Odubhao said matter-of-factly.
The heart-stopping footage captured Toot trying to fire the weapon even while Odubhao restrained him.
“He tried to squeeze the trigger, through his shirt, at my chest,” the man said. “I didn’t come there to get killed.”
For 11 minutes, the brave man held Toot as his wife begged for police to come. Myers also tried to ensure that police would not shoot Odubhao because he was also holding the weapon.
“I kept pleading on the 911 call, ‘My husband is not the suspect. He’s African-American. He’s fighting the guy with a gun. His hand is on the weapon, but please whatever you do, do not shoot him,’” recounted Myers.
Mesa police officers showed up with heavy-duty weaponry in tow. Toot and Odubhao were ordered to put their hands atop their heads before officers tased Toot and guided Odubhao to safety.
The angry man was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, according to ABC 15. In his arraignment, the judge told Toot that he could go back to the prep kitchen as a condition of his release.
Michelle Skura, the suspect’s attorney, told the news outlet, “Mr. Toot enjoys the presumption of innocence under the 5th and 14th amendments of the US Constitution. As such, the State has the burden of proof and not Mr. Toot to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime he is being accused of. Mr. Toot deserves the opportunity to defend himself and to be judged by a court of law and not the court of public opinion.”
The attorney continued, saying, “Candice is a businesswoman, and Tom is a disabled veteran, both of them have worked and served alongside people from all walks of life and have never discriminated against anyone regardless of race, sexual orientation or religious preference. Prior to this incident, they had never been accused of being racist and are sickened by the allegation.”
ABC 15 reported that Mesa police are investigating to see if the incident qualifies as a possible hate crime.
“The investigators are looking into the suspect’s motivation for these crimes. If there is evidence to show this incident is a hate or bias crime based on the race or ethnicity of the victims, this incident will be labeled as such, and that information will be forwarded to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.”