ZombiCon, an annual zombie-themed festival held in Fort Myers, Florida, was the latest site of gun violence when an unidentified individual opened fire within the crowd on Saturday night. So far, one person is dead, five are wounded, and the police manhunt is no closer to finding the shooter.
This year marked the ninth ZombiCon and drew more than 20,000 people. Pandemonium broke out in the downtown area as gunshots rang out around 11:45pm. Hordes of people scrambled through the streets of De Leon Plaza, trying to get away from an assailant they could not see.
“We didn’t know if it was real or fake,” said Haley Delmonte of Naples. “Heard gunshots right in front of me. Saw people running and my mind was everywhere. It was so scary. We ran, then we were like wait … was that real?”
The organizers of the event, Pushing DaiZies, Inc, have released a statement expressing their deep sadness about what transpired this weekend.
“We take the safety of our patrons very seriously and take precautions in hiring security and police officers,” said the statement. “Our prayers go out to the family members and individuals involved in the incident.”
However, some festival-goers question the efficacy of the security measures ZombiCon had in place.
“They patted me down and weren’t going to let me bring fake handcuffs in but they let some guy walk in with a gun?! Just stupid,” said Joelle Faith Filippone-Greaves.
The man killed was 20-year-old Expavious Tyrell Taylor of Okeechobee. The other five people who were shot are currently hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
Taylor was a junior at ASA College in Miami. According to his former high school football coach Pete Walker, Taylor had lost both of his parents as a teenager and was “trying to make something of himself”.
“It’s a terrible, terrible, terrible thing to swallow,” said Walker. “It’s a tragic story of a young person losing his life over not a whole lot.”
Local police are calling for anyone with cellphone videos or pictures of the incident to come forward to assist the investigation.
“There were a lot of witnesses down here, there were a lot of people taking pictures, videos with their cellphone,” said Fort Myers Police Lt., Victor Medico. “Anything that could help with this investigation would be greatly appreciated.”