Free speech angers black student
A Friday-night argument between two teenagers — one white and oneblack — over the Confederate flag ended with one in the hospital witha gunshot wound and the other in jail, facing felony charges.
The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m. in downtown Sarasota nearLinks and Main streets. The site is across from the Hollywood 20 movietheater and is a popular nighttime gathering spot for teenagers.
According to police and eyewitness reports:
MichaelJ. Mitchell, 18, a student at the Sarasota Military Academy, was with agroup of friends when Dan A. Azeff, also 18 and a student at SarasotaHigh School and Sarasota County Technical Institute, walked by withanother group.
Azeff wore a hat with the Confederate symbol and carried a Confederate flag measuring about 5 feet by 3 feet.
Mitchell and a friend questioned Azeff about the hat and flag,asking if he was a racist. Azeff told them no, he was just exercisingfree speech.
The fight escalated and the groups exchanged racialslurs. Mitchell reportedly pulled out a handgun and shot Azeff once inthe chest, then ran off.