GPD officer shoots, kills suspect in UF stabbing
Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 at 8:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 3, 2014 at 1:20 p.m.
Police investigating the stabbing of a man on the University of Florida campus Monday morning shot and killed the suspect after they say he charged at an officer with a hatchet.
Michael Cravey on social media
Michael Cravey, 28, of Gainesville, died at UF Health Shands Hospital shortly after being shot multiple times by a Gainesville Police Department officer in the parking lot near the Best Buy store in Butler Plaza on Archer Road, GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said.
Cravey, who had no previous record of arrests in Gainesville, used aliases online to espouse conspiracy theories involving Aurora, Colo., mass shooting suspect James Holmes.
Law enforcement personnel from GPD, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and University of Florida Police Department were involved in the search for Cravey after the campus stabbing at around 7 a.m.
In that incident, Cravey approached a couple in the parking lot behind Leigh Hall, and after a brief discussion, stabbed the man, said University of Florida Police Department spokesman Maj. Brad Barber.
Officials described the stabbing as a random event and said Cravey and the victim, who is a UF staff member, did not know each other.
Police immediately began chasing Cravey, who fled west in a black Jeep on Newberry Road, Barber said. As officers pursued him, Cravey started running red lights and driving the wrong way on Newberry Road, so police discontinued the pursuit.
The staff member was taken to Shands where he is being treated for his non-life threatening injuries, Barber said. The stabbing victim's wife was not injured.
Officials have not released the victims' names or current conditions.
After police discontinued their chase, Cravey later crashed his Jeep into another vehicle at the intersection of Southwest 37th Boulevard and Archer Road and ran into the Butler Plaza area, Tobias said. Just after 10 a.m., Lt. Mike Schibuola saw Cravey in front of Best Buy concealing a hatchet while speaking to someone parked in a vehicle, Tobias said.
Cravey left the vehicle and walked toward PetSmart as Schibuola approached Cravey with his firearm drawn, ordering him to drop the weapon. Police said that's when Cravey turned and sprinted toward Schibuola with the hatchet raised, within feet of striking the officer, Tobias said.
Schibuola fired and hit Cravey several times. Responding officers provided emergency first aid to Cravey until EMS officials arrived, Tobias said.
“It happened in seconds,” Tobias said when asked why another method of force had not been used by Schibuola. “The guy literally sprinted towards him with the hatchet raised.”
People nearby said they heard several shots and saw Cravey on the ground after the shooting. A bystander, who declined to give his name, said he was driving into the parking lot when he heard the shots and hid under his car's dashboard.
“The officer was forced to make this horrible decision, but he did it to save lives,” Tobias said.
Schibuola is a 16-year veteran field training officer with GPD and commander of the GPD Negotiation Response Team. He will be in an administrative duty assignment while a full investigation is completed, Tobias said.
In 2005, a woman filed an injunction for protection against repeat domestic violence against Cravey in Alachua County, according to court records.
Cravey went by the name Thomas Brinkley on Facebook and YouTube pages. In several videos, Cravey said he was at the center of a conspiracy theory involving James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 people at a movie theater in Colorado in 2012.
A 38-year-old woman who did not wish to be identified by name said she and Cravey argued online about the various James Holmes conspiracy theories.
“He was paranoid about the James Holmes conspiracy and believed he was at the center of it,” she said. “He spread through social media that I was some kind of informant. I was terrified of him.”
Mark Fenster, a law professor at the University of Florida, said most of the conspiracy theories surrounding James Holmes arose in the month after the shooting.
“It mostly stemmed from the recent shootings in Newtown and Aurora and from the national discussion of gun control,” Fenster said.
Fenster added that online videos, such as the ones Cravey created, are the way conspiracy theories are mostly spread online.
Kristy Perry, 29, of Cross City, said she went to school with Cravey at Dixie County High School. Cravey was popular and considered smart among his fellow students, she said.
“Our community is in shock,” she said. “He was never an outcast. I still can't believe it's him.”
GPD is seeking a possible witness to the shooting who was near the scene. The person will be driving an older box-style sedan, police said. This person is urged to contact GPD detectives at 393-7670.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.