What’s worse, the wife hesitated to call the cops because she feared they’d shoot her husband instead
In Arizona, a Black couple feared for their lives as a white man pulled a gun on them during a business meeting at the shared kitchen he owns. The couple was able to make it out alive, but not before the wife hesitated to call the police for fear of them shooting her Black husband instead of the white man who pulled the gun.
Brittany Myers and Solomon Odubajo are owners of a food truck called WhatchaCookin. They rent commercial kitchen space from Chef’s Shared Kitchen owner, Tom Toot. But after Toot gave them a 30-day termination letter stating that he wanted them to leave the kitchen, the couple scheduled a business meeting with Toot to discuss why he wanted them to leave. Not long into the meeting, however, Toot became “very enraged and very angry and upset” with Myers, who initially attended the meeting alone.
“I just couldn’t understand, like… Why was he so angry?” Myers told The Root. “He had an All Lives Matter shirt, started yelling at me with his shirt and told me that I was racist started telling me how our business was and that he should sue us, but he wouldn’t get much and how he just didn’t want us at the kitchen. I told him he was being very unprofessional, that he was making me feel uncomfortable. So, I told him, ‘Let’s go outside and have the meeting’ because I was in that corner.”
Odubajo arrived just in time and sat down with his wife and Toot to wrap up the conversation. But Toot continued to be rude and disrespectful, telling the couple, “Basically, we don’t want to do business with you guys.”
“That’s when he took a deep breath and drew his pistol,” Odubajo said.
Odubajo lunged from his chair and grabbed Toot’s hand, disarming and restraining him.
“I immediately braced myself like, ‘Oh my God, we are going to get shot,'” Myers told ABC 15.
“I went with my instincts,” Solomon added. “He tried to squeeze the trigger, through his shirt, at my chest. I didn’t come there to get killed.”
For what Solomon called the longest 11 minutes, he kept his hand on the gun while Myers talked — nay, pleaded — with police.
“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,'” she recalled.
But Myers initially didn’t want to call the police — and for good reason. Toot pulled a gun on the Black couple in the same America where a Black man was killed by a white cop who held his knee against George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes. The same America where Atatiana Jefferson and Breonna Taylor were shot to death by police in their own homes. And the same America where, even amid nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism, a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot in the back at least seven times by police.
“I was scared,” Myers said. “I thought they might kill my husband if I call the police because he’s a Black man pinning down a white and it don’t look right. So I’m just like, do I call? Do I not call? What do I do? We didn’t know what to do, honestly.”
When police did arrive, however, they told both Solomon and Toot to put their hands on their head. Solomon was pulled out of the way, and Toot was tasered.
“The prosecutor told me that, most likely, [Toot] is not going to do any jail time,” Myers said. “They are offering to reduce the charges to only one count of assault, which is crazy because this happened to two people.”
“[The county attorney] kept saying, ‘You don’t know what he was going to do. You don’t know that he was going to shoot you,’” adds Odubajo. “But I know he was trying to pull the trigger. If it hadn’t got caught in his shirt, we’d be some goners, man. Yet, they keep telling me that it’s not a hate crime.”
Toot, who is charged with aggravated assault, claimed he felt threatened because Odubajo was bigger than him.
“The defendant admitted attempting to withdraw his firearm from his waistband as a scared tactics due to V2 being larger than him,” the police report states. “Furthermore, the defendant admitted that he could have resolve[d] the argument in a positive method, but he made a poor decision by reaching for his firearm,” the police report states.
“His intentions was to kills [sic] us,” Odubajo wrote on the GoFundMe he and Myers set up to raise money to open a “safe and friendly” commissary kitchen.
“We are victims of a hate crime, and we need our communities support,” they wrote. “We’re seeking support because commercial kitchen space is hard to come by, and we may seek a brick and mortar location for our business. As you know the environment isn’t conducive for loans, but we believe this incident and your support will be the catalyst for our growth.”
So far, the GoFundMe has raised more than $161K of its $250K goal.
“All people deserve dignity and respect regardless of race and background,” the couple wrote. “Our desire to live the American Dream is steeped in knowing with the help of those who believe in us, we’ll achieve heights greater than ever imagined! I promise we’ll pay it forward, as you help us please know you’re fostering loved, and helping us defeat the hate that almost took our lives!”
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