Two Black food truck owners are asking for help after a white man pulled a gun on them during a business meeting.
According to ABC 15, Solomon Odubajo and Brittney Myers — a husband-and-wife duo who operate the WhachaCookin food truck in Mesa, Arizona — said they were being forced from food prep space Chef’s Shared Kitchen after being given 30 days’ notice.
In an interview with Now This News, Brittney said she initially met alone with Tom Toot — whose attorney says is the life partner of the owner of the prep kitchen but not an employee — as Solomon was getting their truck serviced.
Per ABC15, Tom told the couple he was in charge of the kitchen’s scheduling and operations.
During the February 5 meeting, Brittney alleges that Tom accused her of being racist and brought her a shirt that read, “All Lives Matter.”
“Once I got to the meeting, it just felt like it was something different that we were actually there for,” Brittney said.
After Brittney contacted Solomon because Tom was making her feel “uncomfortable,” he says he arrived in five minutes.
ABC 15 says the meeting became increasingly tense.
“He told us we were contaminating their whole kitchen,” Brittney told ABC 15, with Solomon adding, “I was like, ‘Cool, I’m not going to tolerate no disrespect towards me or my wife.’”
The couple says Tom then allegedly pulled out a gun. As seen on surveillance footage, Solomon immediately lunges at Tom and grabs the gun before it could be completely removed.
“He tried to squeeze the trigger, through his shirt, at my chest,” Solomon told ABC 15. “I didn’t come there to get killed.”
For roughly 11 minutes, Solomon kept his hand on the gun while Brittney struggled with calling the police, as she was fearful authorities would kill her husband.
“Being married to a Black man, it was hard. At that moment, I’m sorry, I was just like, ‘If I call the police, this may be it for him,’” she told Now This.
However, Brittney ultimately did call the cops after Solomon urged her to do so.
“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,’” Brittney told ABC 15.
She added to Now This that once they arrived, she “begged” the armed officers not to kill Solomon.
Per ABC 15, both men were told to put their hands on their head before Solomon was pulled out of the way and Tom was tasered.
Tom was eventually charged with aggravated assault and is no longer allowed at the scene.
Per their GoFundMe, the couple contend they were victims of a “hate crime.”
In a statement to ABC 15, Tom’s lawyer, Michelle Skura, said both Tom and his partner Candice “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.”
“Mr. Toot enjoys the presumption of innocence under the 5th and 14th amendments of the US Constitution. As such the State has the burden of proof and not Mr. Toot to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime he is being accused of. Mr. Toot deserves the opportunity to defend himself and to be judged by a court of law and not the court of public opinion,” the statement continued.
Mesa Police also told the news channel that “investigators are looking into the suspect’s motivation for these 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.”
In their GoFundMe, Solomon and Brittney are raising money to “open a safe and friendly commissary kitchen” and restaurant where “everyone is welcome and treated respectfully.”
“All people deserve dignity and respect regardless of race and background. 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!” they wrote. “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!”
As of this writing, the couple has raised $92,775 of the $250,000 goal.
To help Solomon and Brittney with their goal, CLICK HERE!