A Black Arizona couple is not only breathing easier, but happy to be breathing after a white man reportedly tried to pull a gun on them during a business meeting.
Solomon Odubhao and Brittney Myers told KNXV-TV ABC15 they were meeting with Tom Toot, the life partner of the owner of Chef’s Shared Kitchen in Mesa, when the incident occurred. It was captured on video by the company’s surveillance cameras.
The owners of WhachaCookin Food Truck, the couple sells what they describe as “comfort food” and “soul food.” They said they were renting a space to prep at the kitchen last month, when they were being forced out of the kitchen despite having a 30-day notice.
“He told us we were contaminating their whole kitchen,” Myers said, noting the meeting had been arranged because Toot “wanted to discuss reasons of departure.”
Toot is not an employee of the business, according to his attorney Michelle Skura, but messages obtained by ABC15 show he claims to be in charge of scheduling and operations.
When things got tense in the meeting Odubhao said he spoke out against Toot’s incivility. “I was like, ‘you know what, I’m not going to tolerate no disrespect towards me or my wife,’ ” Odubhao said.
At that point Toot released a deep sigh and reached for his gun, according to Myers. “I immediately braced myself like ‘Oh my God! We’re gonna get shot,’ ” Myers said.
In response, Odubhao immediately jumped up and grabbed the gun, holding Toot down for over 10 minutes while waiting on officers to arrive. Seven Mesa police officers arrived, guns in tow. The encounter ended with Toot getting tased and Odubhao and Myers looking visibly shaken.
When she called the police, Myers said she begged them not to shoot Odubhao when they showed up. “I kept pleading on the 911 call, ‘My husband is not the suspect. He’s African-American. He’s fighting with the guy with a gun. His hand is on the weapon, but please whatever you do, do not shoot him,’ ” Myers said.
According to Toot’s attorney, he’s a disabled veteran who is insulted his actions are being painted as racially motivated.
“Candice is a businesswoman and Tom is 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,” Skura said in a statement.
Toot is currently facing aggravated assault charges, and police told ABC15 if there is any evidence his actions were a result of racial hate or bias, they will forward it to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Odubhao said he did what he had to do so he and his wife would survive the encounter. “I mean I just went with my instincts,” he said. “He tried to squeeze the trigger through his shirt at my chest. I didn’t come there to get killed.”