A man accused of fatally shooting a motorcyclist on July 31 on Texas 199 in Azle fired the weapon after a confrontation between the two at a gas station, family members and friends said on Tuesday.
Family members of the man who was arrested said he fired in self-defense because the motorcyclist, who court records show was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, had threatened to kill him, called him an anti-gay slur and followed him.
But a friend of the motorcyclist said that the 43-year-old man was shot multiple times and that surveillance video he viewed from the gas station showed the motorcyclist was followed by the suspect.
The motorcyclist "was not the aggressive one," his friend, who spoke on the condition that his name not be used because he's involved with the ABT gang, said Tuesday.
Killed in the incident was Brian Keith Turner. He died of multiple gunshot wounds in a Fort Worth hospital emergency room shortly after the July 31 shooting, according to Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office records.
On Aug. 2, Azle police arrested 27-year-old Anthony Scott Bennett on suspicion of murder. Bennett remained in the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
"Scott was pursued and threatened by Mr. Turner, not the other way around," a spokesperson for Bennett's family said Tuesday, relaying Bennett's account of the events. "Mr. Turner took exception to (Bennett's) LGBTQ bumper stickers and began threatening to kill him at a gas station while Scott was minding his own business, attempting to put gas in his car."
The family spokesperson and a friend spoke on Tuesday on the condition their names not be used for fear of more retaliation. Family members reported that Bennett's Azle home was damaged days after his arrest on Aug. 2. Authorities warned family members of possible retaliation after Bennett was taken into custody, they said.
Initially, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Bennett was a member of the Pagan's Motorcycle Club, but a Pagan's official and family members said he is not associated with the club.
Family members and a friend told the Star-Telegram on Tuesday that Bennett is pansexual, and that was why he faced a confrontation with Turner on July 31.
On that afternoon, Bennett told his family, he went to a gas station in Azle and that was where he encountered Turner.
A statement released by the family, which is also being used on a flier seeking support for Bennett's defense, said that Turner "aggressively confronted Bennett because he had stickers on his car that identified him as a member of the LGBTQ community.
"In an attempt to avoid a violent confrontation, Bennett got into his car and exited the gas station onto Texas 199," the statement said.
Turner's friend, however, said that it was Turner who left the gas station first and that he was followed by Bennett.
The statement released by Bennett's family said that Turner recklessly chased Bennett for miles, and "continued to threaten and harass him, taking a photograph and repeating that, 'I am going to kill you'" while referring to him with an anti-gay slur.
At some point, Bennett felt that his life was in danger, and he was forced to defend himself, he told his family.
Bennett's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
Azle police said they are investigating what transpired between the two men leading up to the shooting.
"We are investigating their relationship and their individual history will certainly figure into that investigation," said Azle Police Chief Ben Hall in an email. "I have no knowledge of any prior involvement with Azle Police."
Hall said Azle police had sufficient evidence to support the arrest, but the investigation continues.
The family's statement mentioned that Azle police took as evidence a motorcycle jacket that belonged to Bennett's father, who died a few years ago.
Azle police also have obtained footage from the gas station where the confrontation began "which corroborates our story," the statement says.
"Turner was in the process of committing a hate crime against Bennett, and Bennett would never have made this decision if he was not sincerely afraid for his life, and the safety of his family," according to the statement released by Bennett's family and friends. "This is a case of self-defense, and must be treated as a precedent for the rights of LGBTQ persons everywhere to defend themselves against violence and death."
The statement describes Bennett as "a bright, grounded young man with a strong work ethic and a commitment to not only his immediate community, but to the greater global village."
Family members and friends have created the "Free Anthony Campaign," and they said donations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We ask that respect be shown to both families and all parties in this case," their statement said. "Our goal is to bring awareness to the facts surrounding the ongoing investigation, and to cooperate with investigators as they complete their discovery."
They asked anyone with information about the case to contact Bennett's attorney, J. Warren St. John at 817-336-1436.