At 11:45PM ET Saturday night (October 17th) a gunman opened fire in to a crowd of revelers at ZombiCon, “the largest gathering of zombies and those who love them in the state of Florida”. The assailant killed a young man only 20 years of age and injured 4 others.
No suspects have been identified, but the suspect is described as a man in his 20s, Hispanic and approximately 6 feet tall. Fort Myers police chief Dennis Eads is referring to the manhunt as “a nightmare”.
The organizers of Zombicon, Pushing DaiZies, Inc. released a statement via Facebook the evening of the incident:
“(We) are deeply saddened by the news of what happened within the footprint of our event. We take the safety of our patrons very seriously and take precautions in hiring security and police officers for our annual event. Our prayers go out to the family members and individuals involved in the incident.”
Critics of the annual charity event have emerged in the days following, saying that security wasn’t tight enough, people weren’t checked at check points and inspite of realistic weapons not being allowed by policy this was not enforced. To critics of the security of the event Pushing DaiZies also responded with:
We take the safety of our patrons very seriously and take precautions in hiring security and police officers for our annual event. Homeland security also is prevalent throughout our event as well.
ZombiCon takes place in Fort Myer’s Florida every year to honor the fact that George Romero’s classic Day of the Dead had it’s opening scene filmed in Ft. Myer’s Florida. It is a charity event that raises money for the community, collects cans of food for local charities and has a yearly blood drive. From their Website:
Zombicon is not only about raising the dead, but about raising funds for the community, the kids, the hungry, the sick and amping up creative culture in SWFL! You are the ones who help make all this possible!
Pushing Daizies events like Zombicon are all geared toward benefiting the local community through charitable giving (blood drives & canned food) and community support (children’s art programs & scholarships).
It can’t be done without loyal, giving fans!
There will be multiple access points to Zombicon which can be found in the enclosed area map. We will be collecting canned and non-perishable food donations at each entry location to benefit the Gladiolus Food Pantry and the hungry people of our community. If you are feeling extra giving and are super awesome, visit the Lee Memorial Blood Center bus by the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center and donate life-saving blood and receive a free custom T-shirt! Sunstate Academy will also be at it again this year hosting Zombification Stations (makeup booths) with proceeds also going towards charitable efforts. The KidZone is back and will be located on First Street. As always, we recommend bringing children early and at your discretion. NEW THIS YEAR: A kid’s costume contest for 12 and under! Register by 6:30. As night falls, the crowd will thicken and (of course) there will be zombies… lots of zombies! So please use your best judgement when bringing young ghouls and consider leaving by sundown.
The young man killed, Expavious Tyrell Taylor, is being remembered as a drummer and football player who, at the age of 20, had overcome more than his share of tragedy: when he was eight, his father died; two years ago, so did his mother. Last year, Taylor’s son died, and shortly after that, he lost his grandmother, NBC affiliate WBBH reported.
Fort Myers interim police Chief Dennis Eads said of the abundance of fake weapons. “Especially after shots were fired and things happened. At that point you had 15,000 to 20,000 suspects. Because no one knew much of anything.” He also said they still don’t know if the shooting was at random or was targeting someone.
Fort Myers police are asking that anyone who attended the event and may have captured vital investigative information on their smartphone to please call the police department at 239-321-7700. All tips can also be sent to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or text message C-R-I-M-E-S (274637) Keyword FMPD. Tipsters can remain anonymous. All updates will be issued via email.