TAMPA, FL (WALB) - "I'd like to waive extradition," said Eric Sheppard, as he appeared before a Hillsborough County, Fl, judge Friday morning for his extradition hearing.
It was Sheppard's first appearance before a judge U.S. Marshals arrested him in Tampa Bay around 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
He had been on the run since April 21st, when police say he brought a gun onto the Valdosta State University campus. Days earlier, he ignited controversy when he and other students walked on an American flag on campus.
Sheppard's attorney did not return WALB's call Friday seeking comment, but the law firm did e-mail WALB the following statement regarding Sheppard's arrest:
Today, Mr. Eric Sheppard appeared before a Florida judge and voluntarily waived his right to an extradition hearing. Attorney Mawuli Davis of the Davis Bozeman law firm traveled from Atlanta to Tampa late last night to meet with Mr. Sheppard at the Hillsborough County Jail.
"Eric's decision not to fight extradition coupled with his peaceful surrender when arrested, confirms Eric is not a threat to the community. Unfortunately, what appears to be lost in the coverage of Eric's activism as a student is that he is merely a college kid trying to figure out life under some extraordinary stressful circumstances.
Physically he is fine, but mentally he is exhausted from living under the constant fear for his life as a result of the death threats and the bounty placed on his life by self-proclaimed "white supremacist" individuals and organizations. He does not wish anyone any harm and was reacting to the very aggressive and hostile threats of violence against him and the people close to him.
Eric has never been arrested or in any trouble. Even law enforcement authorities in Valdosta have dismissed statements they have made recently regarding Eric as a "publicity stunt". Eric and his family would like to thank everyone who has prayed for his safe return to Georgia.
He looks forward to learning from this experience and having an opportunity to properly process and address everything that has happened after he exercised his 1st Amendment right by engaging in public protest and freedom of speech. He remains committed to being a positive agent of change and helping improve the conditions under which many people in our society continue to struggle in." stated Attorney Mawuli Davis, attorney for Eric Sheppard.