Eads: Shooting of Fort Myers 6-year-old is ‘senseless’

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Malcom Wilcox, 6, was shot while in a Fort Myers apartment complex Monday night. (A’Lani R Mendez/Facebook)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The mother and cousin of a 6-year-old shot at a Fort Myers apartment complex Monday night were among seven people shot during a shooting spree in September, Fort Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads said.

Malcolm Wilcox was in a vehicle with his mother, Jartravia Isom, and cousin, Tazyhion Matthews, 5, near the intersection of Dale Street and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard on Sept. 23 when another vehicle pulled alongside and started shooting.

Isom and Matthews were struck by bullets. Wilcox was not injured that night.

No arrests were made in the September shooting.

“The people involved, pretty sure we know them,” Eads said. “We just need the evidence to get them where they belong.”

Isom and Matthews were among seven people shot in seven hours that night.

A ‘senseless’ shooting

Officers were at an adjacent apartment complex when they heard gunfire coming from the Landings at East Pointe Apartments on Nelson Tillis Boulevard just after 10 p.m. Monday, Eads said. When officers arrived, they found Wilcox shot in the leg and used a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, Eads said.

Wilcox, who Eads described as an “innocent bystander,” was alert and conscious. He is expected to make a full recovery, Eads said.

“Another senseless shooting with a child,” he said Tuesday. “They are all senseless, period. No matter who is involved. But especially when there is a child that has never done anything ever to anyone.”

Multiple adults and children were standing outside when a vehicle pulled up and started firing into the crowd, Eads said. Other reports say that many people were inside their homes.

Investigators could not provide a detailed description of the two suspects or their vehicle.

Eads hopes witnesses will “shed some light on why someone would just randomly pull up and choose to shoot them.” He added that while Isom told detectives she doesn’t know why she was shot at Monday night, “I think everyone that gets shot at knows something happened.”

Isom did not cooperate with detectives after she was shot in September, Eads said.

Investigators believe a man Isom was with Monday night may have been the target, said Eads, who added that the recent shooting may be related to the previous one involving Isom.

“There was a male there we need to talk to and find out what the whole root of this situation is,” Eads said. “It started somewhere, and it definitely needs to end somewhere.”

‘Very cowardly’

Eads expressed disgust over how disputes quickly escalate to gunfire.

“Now everyone has a gun, and it’s the first thing that happens,” he said. “You have a beef with somebody, the first thing they do is grab the gun and start shooting. It’s very much cowardly, and it’s just ridiculous.”

Eads also expressed frustration over how the lack of witness cooperation prevents crimes from being solved.

“It’s absolutely enough. It’s just another matter of time before another 5 or 6-year-old gets killed,” said Eads, referring to the Oct. 2014 shooting death of Andrew Faust Jr. “No one deserves to have a gunshot wound, especially a child.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, authorities have not received any tips in relation to Monday’s shooting, said Trish Routte with Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.

Exploring solutions

On the Tuesday following the shooting, city leaders gathered to present ideas to keep Fort Myers children safe.

One council member said he wants to increase police presence in some areas by extending patrols to 24 hours. Council member Johnny Streets said reducing gun violence will require a concerted effort from police.

“How do you take back a small community such as Harlem Lakes or any other community?” Streets said. “One house at a time. But you have to have officers or an officer who wants to be committed.”

Another council member said he recommends a reinforced curfew for children. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said curfews could help.

“Some emphasis on that could be warranted, stepping up the effort to make sure that curfews are being complied with,” he said.

Anyone with information about Monday’s shooting is asked to contact Fort Myers police at 239-321-7700, Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or text C-R-I-M-E-S (274637), keyword FMPD.

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