Police in Mesa, Arizona say they are looking into whether or not a hate crime occurred after a Black husband and wife had a gun pulled on them by a white man during a business meeting.
The incident, which was caught on a surveillance camera, occurred at Chef’s Shared Kitchen in Mesa.
Solomon Odubhao and his wife, Brittney Myers, told ABC15 they were asked to come to an exit interview at the prep kitchen they use to prepare food for their food truck. Odubhao and Myers operate a food truck called WhachaCookin.
The couple met at the prep kitchen with Tom Toot, the life partner of the kitchen’s owner. Toot told the couple that after 30 days, they would no longer be allowed to use the kitchen.
According to the couple, the meeting became tense when Toot told them they were “contaminating their whole kitchen.”
“I was like, cool I’m not going to tolerate no disrespect towards me or my wife,” said Odubhao told ABC15.
“Then he just reached for his gun,” said Myers. “I immediately braced myself like, ‘Oh my God we are going to get shot.'”
“I went with my instincts,” said Odubhao.
In the video, Toot can be seen reaching behind his back and trying to pull a gun. Odubhao quickly jumps on Toot and grabs the gun before he can remove it.
“He tried to squeeze the trigger, through his shirt, at my chest,” said Solomon. “I didn’t come there to get killed.”
Odubhao subdued Toot for roughly 11 minutes while his wife talked 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,'” recalled Brittney.
Seven Mesa police officers entered the room with guns drawn and ordered both men to put their hands on their heads. Odubhao was pulled away to safety and Toot was tasered.
Toot was charged with aggravated assault and told by the judge at his arraignment that he could not go back to the prep kitchen as a condition of his release.
According to a statement given to ABC15 by Mesa police, investigators are looking into the suspect’s motivations for the 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,” a spokesperson for the police department said.