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Facebook political argument ends with Tampa man shot in buttocks

Brian Sebring, pictured here, is accused of shooting Alex Stephens after a political disagreement on Facebook. [Tampa Police Department]
Published Aug. 8, 2018

TAMPA — Two men disagreed about politics on Facebook.

When things got heated, one showed up with a Glock and an AR-15 and shot the other in the thigh and buttocks, police said.

Call it extreme unfriending.

It happened Monday night in Tampa, leading to the arrest of Brian Sebring, 44, of 4412 Leila Ave. on charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed firearm.

Alex Stephens, 46, of 3002 Wallace Ave., was the victim, police said, though he may have had a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric. Sebring told officers Stephens threatened him.

"After receiving several explicit messages and threats, the defendant responded to the victim's home to confront him reference the messages," a police account said.

When Sebring arrived — wearing the Glock in a holster on his waistband — he honked his horn and waited by his truck for Stephens to appear.

Stephens came out of the home and charged toward Sebring, police said, and that's when Sebring fired two shots with the Glock.

"The victim ran away and the defendant fled the scene," police said.

The nature of the political dispute on Facebook was not described in detail, and it is not apparent from public views of the men's home pages.

Sebring is a registered Democrat who follows Barack Obama on Twitter.

Voting records do not show a registration for Stephens, who is a felon, according to Department of Corrections records.

Sebring was booked into the Hillsborough County jail, his bail set at $9,500.

Jail records state that he is a delivery driver for a pizza company. His Twitter account describes him as a married father of two. Like Stephens, he went to Tampa's Robinson High School.

It didn't take long before a critic weighed in on Facebook.

Mike Williams, one of Sebring's Facebook friends, posted Tuesday on Sebring's page, accusing him of throwing away everything for something dumb. Williams elaborated on his own page.

"Throw your whole life away including your kids because you can't handle s--- on Facebook. SAD SAD SAD," he wrote, before making a derisive comment about "snowflakes."

Contact Patty Ryan at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

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