White man takes out gun to stop black students from entering apartment building
A video of the tense encounter in Florida went viral on Twitter.
A video of a tense encounter between four black students and a white man in Florida has prompted a police investigation after it went viral on Twitter.
The video, posted by one of the students of Florida A&M University, Isiah Butterfield, shows the man holding a gun and using his body to prevent the students from entering the building of a student housing complex on Saturday. The video has been viewed more than 320,000 times on Twitter.
"...We are sick of the discrimination," said Butterfield in the tweet. "Never thought I’d have a personal experience with racism like this..."
The incident is under investigation under Florida's statute of aggravated assault with deadly weapon without intent to kill, the Tallahassee Police Department said.
"Once we found out he had the gun, it turned into a whole different situation," Butterfield told ABC News. "We really think he was trying to provoke us to the point where it got violent so he could retaliate with the gun. I knew that if this dude even feels threatened, he's going to find any excuse to pull the trigger."
ABC News reached out to the man in the video, Don Crandall, for comment and will update the story if he responds.
Butterfield said the encounter with Crandall started when the four students were waiting outside the apartment complex for their friend to let them in to join a party.
Crandall told them they weren't getting into the building, went inside and locked the door.
"We were just sitting there confused, like why did he even say anything to us?" Butterfield said.
Then Crandall came out, again, to reiterate the point and that's when Butterfield started recording the events on his phone. That was also when another white student, a resident of the building, tried to intervene on their behalf and let them in, urging Crandall to "keep walking" and "just go about your day."
We really think he was trying to provoke us to the point where it got violent so he could retaliate with the gun
In the video, Crandall, who appears to be considerably older than the young students and was confirmed to not be a resident of the building, trades insults with the white student as the black students stand watching quietly. Afterward, they all enter the building but Crandall refused to let them enter the elevator with him.
"Find another elevator, you can't get in this one," he said, blocking their way as the four students tried to enter it.
"Why not? Do you own the building?" the students asked.
"Because you don't belong in this building," he replied, before adding, "You ain't got a key for the building, you don't belong in the elevator."
The man took out a key to show them, which was when the students noticed he had a gun in his hand.
"Sir, you bring out your gun. What's your purpose for that?" one of the students asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Excuse me. Forgive me," he said, trying to hide it behind him.
The white student sided with the black students throughout the ordeal. Butterfield acknowledged his support on Twitter for "standing by us ... that’s a real dude right there."
The apartment complex, Stadium Centre, said the man did not live in the building.
"We are aware of the video posted on social media over the weekend and reported this incident immediately to the police," the apartment complex said in a statement.
"Firearms are strictly prohibited on our property and we take this matter very seriously. We are cooperating with the police during their investigation and it has been determined that the person in the elevator is not a resident. Moreover, we are firmly committed to fostering a diverse residential community that is inclusive and welcoming to all."
Though the police did not give any further information on the incident, the man was identified by Twitter users as Don Crandall, the general manager of a local hotel, Baymont by Wyndham.
When ABC News reached out to the hotel for comment, the hotel confirmed his identity and said he was no longer working there.
"The man you are talking about is no longer employed with us and does not represent the values of our company and how others should be treated," an employee with the hotel said, declining to say whether he had been fired.
Later, the hotel posted on its Instagram account, apologizing on behalf of Crandall and saying it "did not stand behind the actions of our former General Manager."
"Our team has gone ahead and took the actions that were necessary to uphold our beliefs," the hotel added.
It does not appear that the man had any authority on who was to enter the student housing building. Stadium Centre told ABC News that it was in no way affiliated or associated with the hotel or its parent organization.
Part of the incident had been captured on camera, the university said in an email to ABC News.
"Florida A&M University (FAMU) learned that on Saturday, Sept. 8, at least one FAMU student was the alleged victim of an off-campus incident, which was captured on camera," the school told ABC News. "Our students' safety is our first priority. The Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) is investigating the matter; therefore, FAMU cannot disclose additional details. The University will provide assistance as it is requested by TPD. For more information, please contact TPD's Public Information Office at (850) 891-4255."
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