An Arizona couple is concerned that a man may walk away without facing any serious consequences after he pulled a firearm on them during a February business meeting.
Brittany Myers and Solomon Odubajo are owners of the Whatchacookin food truck, a Black-owned business serving customers in Mesa, Ariz. On Feb. 5, the couple arrived for a meeting with Tom Toot of Chef’s Shared Kitchen, where they’d been renting commercial kitchen space.
“He had given us a 30-day termination letter and he wanted us to leave the kitchen, Myers told The Root. “So we wanted to discuss why he wanted us to leave.”
Unfortunately, Myers’ inexperience with the clinical condition known as “Peak Whiteness” (clinical name: Wypiposis) left her unaware of the warning signs that signal a person is about to go “full white.” And because of a previously scheduled appointment, her partner, Odubajo, notified her that he would arrive late. So, according to Myers, when Toot became confrontational just minutes into the meeting, she was dumbfounded by the episode of caucasity.
“He was very enraged and very angry and upset,” Myers recounted. “I just couldn’t understand, like...Why was he so angry? He had an All Lives Matter shirt, started yelling at me with his shirt and told me that I was racist started telling me how our business was and, um, that he should sue us, but he wouldn’t get much and how he just didn’t want us at the kitchen. I told him he was being very unprofessional; that he was making me feel uncomfortable. So I told him, ‘let’s go outside and have the meeting’ because I was in that corner.”
Myers is only partially correct. It wasn’t an All Lives Matter shirt.
It was the All Lives Matter shirt.
In video surveillance footage obtained by The Root, Toot gesticulates wildly before holding up a shirt with the words “
Black White Gay Straight All Lives Matter,” as Myers gives a look that negro-ologists around the world recognize as the subconscious recognition that some white shit is finna* happen.
*Finna: A passive verb that signals the moments preceding white shit. White shit does not just happen. There must be a moment when it is finna happen.
Luckily for Myers, Odubajo arrived, temporarily interrupting Toot’s white nonsense. “So I walked in the door and see Tom, so I tried to change the mood a little bit,” Odubajo told The Root. “I’m like: ‘Hey bud, what’s up,’ to lighten things up.”
Myers informed her husband that Toot seems a little agitated so Odubajo sat with his wife to finish the discussion. While the surveillance footage has no sound, it seems to show a calm conversation between the couple and a slightly animated Toot.
“My wife starts telling me what [Toot] said,” Odubajo explained. “So and he interrupts and says: ‘Basically we don’t want to do business with you guys.’ I told him it didn’t make any sense and that he was coming off as rude and disrespectful. That’s when he took a deep breath and drew his pistol.”
Odubajo immediately leapt from his seat and grabbed Toot’s hand. When she realized what was going on, Myers helped her husband restrain Toot before calling the police. While waiting for law enforcement authorities to arrive, Odubajo held on to Toot’s gun hand so he couldn’t shoot them...
For nine minutes and 55 seconds.
Meanwhile, Myers worried that her husband would end up being shot and killed —not by the man with the gun—by the police.
“I didn’t really want to call the police because I was scared,” said Myers. “I thought they might kill my husband if I call the police because he’s a Black man pinning down a white and it don’t look right. So I’m just like, do I call? Do I not call? What do I do? We didn’t know what to do, honestly.
“Once I did call the police, the first thing I said was: ‘Somebody’s trying to kill us! At the same time, I’m like, ‘please don’t kill my husband when you come to handle this situation.’”
After viewing video surveillance of the incident, investigators noted that the footage was consistent with Myers’ and Odubajo’s statements. According to the arrest documents obtained by The Root, Toot also admitted to “attempting to withdraw his firearm form [sic] his waistband as a scare tactic due to [Odubajo] being bigger than him.”
Since the incident, the couple have received letters from the owners of the Chef’s Shared Kitchen demanding that they remove posts about the incident and warning them not to talk to the media, a sentiment they say was echoed by police and the Maricopa County attorney. And, while the incident happened nearly two months ago, the couple is now concerned that Toot may only receive a slight reprimand for his actions. Police initially charged the kitchen gangster with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, along with a single count of disorderly conduct. But, according to Myers and Odubajo, that could change before Toot faces a judge.
“The prosecutor told me that, most likely, [Toot] is not going to do any jail time,” Myers said. “They are offering to reduce the charges to only one count of assault, which is crazy because this happened to two people.”
Or maybe three.
Shortly after the incident, Myers had a miscarriage.
“[The county attorney] kept saying ‘You don’t know what he was going to do. You don’t know that he was going to shoot you,’” added Odubajo. “But I know he was trying to pull the trigger. If it hadn’t got caught in his shirt, we’d be some goners, man. Yet, they keep telling me that it’s not a hate crime.”
The Maricopa County attorney and Toot’s legal representatives did not responded to The Root’s request for comment.
Meanwhile, the couple is still wrestling with the trauma from the incident. Aside from the anxiety of having his business uprooted, Odubajo regularly wakes up during the night, pleading: “Please don’t shoot me.”
Toot is scheduled for a court appearance in May.
His life matters.