Search for ZombiCon shooter continues; Residents concerned over recent violence

Author: stephanie susskind, SAM SMINK, AND ADAM WRIGHT
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Investigators have received more than 60 tips related to the deadly shooting at ZombiCon Saturday night.

One person was killed, and five others were injured in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads says the police department will be getting the FBI involved as they work tirelessly to track down the shooter. Authorities have not yet released a suspect name or picture.

“We are still talking to lots of witnesses, lots of people and we want to make sure what we do is right the first time we do it, so we don’t have to do it over again and explain why we messed it up,” said Eads.

The chief says he has heard reports of a couple saying they were used as a human shield by the ZombiCon suspect and they will be talking to the couple.

“There was a story that someone actually posted on Facebook, that the shooter rested the gun over his shoulder when they fired. So we will be talking to that individual,” confirmed Eads.

A growing memorial honoring 20-year-old Expavious Tyrell Taylor who lost his life was the only visible reminder left on First Street in downtown Fort Myers on Tuesday. But witnesses won’t soon forget the terrifying moments during which the night of fun quickly turned into a nightmare.

“Everybody started screaming and running, so I started running with them. I thought it was supposed to be that way, I didn’t know it was really happening, that it was really going down,” said Joey Balogh.

Tyree Hunter, 20; David Perez, 22; Isiah James Knight, 18; Kyle Garick Roberts, 20, and John Parsons, 31, were also injured in the shooting. 

Is recent violence affecting Fort Myers’ image?

Following recent tragedies in Fort Myers, the city’s image is taking a hit on social media.

“I’ve been down here since like I said, 1978. It used to be a wonderful little town, people were friendly,” said resident George Benti, “nowadays, it’s insane.”

“I don’t agree that that’s the feeling that represents the image that outsiders have of our city,” said Mayor Randy Henderson, “I think those are the feelings of some people who really should find something better to do than disparage our city.”

“I understand those thoughts. It’s a matter of public perception, but public perception and reality can be two different things,” said Andy Morgan, owner of United Café Bar and Bistro in downtown Fort Myers.

Morgan says he was worried downtown would see a drop in business after the ZombiCon shooting, but business has continued as normal.

“I’m sure if we looked at the news in any county, any state we’re gonna see similar stories because unfortunately that’s in the backdrop of life these days,” said Morgan.

The recent acts of violence have no doubt hurt the image of Fort Myers at least in some eyes.

A crowd led by local youth pastors gathered at Centennial Park Tuesday night to send a message to the younger generation.

“Just seeing the violence around our city in recent days, we know that we’re called to pray. We need to change not necessarily physical things, we need to change the heart and we know the best way to do that is to pray,” said Will Hutcherson, with the Next Level Church.

Fort Myers leaders discuss security concerns

Monday night, Fort Myers city leaders began reevaluating how large-scale events will be hosted in the future. Councilman Mike Flanders proposed limiting when alcohol is sold on the street to help with crowd control.

“I would like for them to be in the establishments, more supervision, more direct control over checking their IDs and so forth,” said Councilman Mike Flanders.

City leaders say installing surveillance cameras around downtown could provide vital footage in future incidents. A video from outside Los Cabos on First Street shows the moments leading up to and following the shooting where people are seen running for their lives.

“It is a very sick individual and it is a scary situation when someone will do that,” said Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads.

Authorities say if you see yourself in the surveillance video, they want to hear from you. Every picture and piece of video could help lead to the shooter.

Police say after the shooting, the suspect ran west toward the Federal Courthouse. He’s described as either white or possibly Hispanic male in his late teens or early 20s. The suspect was wearing a black t-shirt and a black and red baseball cap. He was carrying a semi-automatic handgun.

Anonymous tips can be provided by calling Crime Stoppers 24 hours a day at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477), or by uploading video or information to the tips page on the Crime Stoppers website,

Tips can also be emailed to Fort Myers Police Detective Sergeant Brian O’Reilly at

Authorities say tipsters will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 from Crime Stoppers and $5,000 from the Fort Myers Police Department.

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