Gulf County Shooting Labeled a Hate Crime

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Port St. Joe - Authorities said Port St. Joe resident Walton Butler admitted to shooting his neighbor Everett Gant in the head outside Butler's Pine Ridge apartment Monday night.

"It was just senseless. It was a senseless accident that really shouldn't have happened," said neighbor Kayla Jefferson.

Butler claimed he opened fire in self defense, but according to sheriff's investigators and the 911 tapes, many said it appeared to be a hate crime.

"To know that that type of person lives next to you makes you want to pick up and move," said neighbor Dekeela Clemmons.

Residents told NewsChannel 7 the incident started with Butler using racial slurs towards children in the neighborhood.

"Stuff like this, racism, has never ended. It's something that still goes on in the small city. And from the looks of it, it's never going to change," said Jefferson.

Later that evening, neighbors said Gant went to talk to Butler about the insults. According to investigators, he approached Butler's sliding glass door, it slung open, and Butler shot Gant in the head with a 22 caliber shotgun.

Butler then allegedly closed the door, finished cooking his dinner, and sat down to eat.

"Do you find that a little bizarre?" asked NewsChannel 7's Bryan Anderson.

"Yeah usually somebody's at the very least excited, scared, something along those lines. But Mr. Butler was very calm," said Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent.

According to the sheriff's office, Gant was in an induced coma listed in critical condition as of Tuesday afternoon. A judge ordered Butler held without bond Tuesday morning.