TAMPA - A political argument on Facebook led to more than just figurative shots flying in Tampa this week.
On Tuesday, Tampa police responded to a South Tampa home where a man was reportedly shot. The victim told police he knew who shot him and why: He and his attacker had gotten into a heated argument about politics on Facebook, only the fight didn’t stay online.
"Apparently it started out as something political, something having to do with [President] Trump. We're not sure what, exactly. It escalated. There were threats, there were nasty comments," said Steve Hegarty, a spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department.
According to a criminal affidavit, the eventual victim stoked the flames by sending explicit messages and threats to his Facebook friend.
Those threats appear to have prompted Brian Sebring, 44, to show up at home near Ballast Point in Tampa, where Alex Stephens was currently living. Anticipating a fight, Sebring told officers he armed himself with a compact Glock semi-automatic pistol and an AR-15 carbine.
When Sebring arrived at his Facebook friend’s home, an affidavit said he honked his car horn to summon the man from the house.
When the man came out, police say he “immediately charged” at Sebring. Sebring then drew his pistol and fired two shots at the victim, hitting him in the thigh and buttocks.
Sebring fled the scene but later turned himself into police.
The ordeal was terrifying for the woman who owns the house where Stephens was living.
"It's just traumatizing. It really is. I just have been really upset," said Donna Skalnik. "He's brought danger to me and my husband and we can't tolerate it any longer."
Skalnik said she'll be evicting Stephens from her home. Skalnik, meanwhile, is left wondering how a Facebook argument ended in gunfire in her front yard.
"People spend too much time on Facebook instead of actually interacting with real human beings and sitting down and discussing their views," she said.
TPD said Sebring, a pizza delivery driver who was arrested in 1996 and again in 1997 for domestic battery, does not possess a concealed weapons permit.
He is now facing felony charges for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm. He has since been released on bond.