Lawyer: Simple techniques neglected before Zombicon bloodshed

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FORT MYER, Fla. – The company charged with security at the zombie-themed festival that ended in real bloodshed has had numerous problems with Florida’s licensing department, an investigation revealed Wednesday.

Tyrell Taylor, 20, was shot and killed in October 2015 when a shooter open fire on First Street in Downtown Fort Myers. The shooting also injured five others.


Taylor’s family attorney, Kip Sinclair said Southwest Florida Security and Investigations has been afflicted with issues as far back as early 2000s.

“This is a company that looks like, at least in the past, it had been playing fast and loose with the regulations,” Sinclair said.

But Southwest Florida Investigations continues to be embattled by licensing problems. Just this month, the company was fined $400 after it was discovered that one of its guards had no license to work at Zombicon.

The list of Southwest Florida Security and Investigations licensing problems is significant:

  • 2006: Owner fined for multiple charges in illegal training of security guards
  • 2010: Owner submits fraudulent documents about nonexistent licenses
  • 2014: Company fined for guards without licenses
  • 2016: Company fined again for guards without licenses

The problems with the security company began in 2006 with its owner, Jesse Morgan, who was fined $2,200 in for committing fraud, deceit,negligence or misconduct in the training of his security guards.

Four years later in 2010, Morgan forfeited his licenses after submitting a fraudulent document claiming he was insured when he was not.

Morgan blames a company secretary for misusing funds intended for insurance payments.

“A secretary embezzled $10,000 and falsified the documents to cover up her theft,” Morgan said in a phone call. “She was responsible for making that insurance payment.”

Southwest Florida Security and Investigations voluntarily gave up its licenses for a year after the incident, Morgan said.

Taylor’s lawyer said the company renewed its licenses with the same management.

“They got it back with the same owners and the same people running the company and it makes the whole thing seem suspect,” Sinclair said.

In 2014, Soutjesse morgan zombicon securityhwest Florida Security and Investigations was fined $1,750 for using guards who had not completed required licensed training.

Lawyers for Southwest Florida Security and Investigations have denied any obligation to ensuring the safety of Zombicon attendants, saying the company’s contract “didn’t provide for making sure the people at the event were safe,” according to lawsuit documents.

Sinclair is calling foul on the company’s claim.

“If you don’t hire a security company to help protect the safety of people of the event, what else are they there for?” he said. “They’re not there to pass out soft drinks.”

Local law enforcement officials have said it is impossible to control security at an event attended by thousands of people with fake weapons. Every year, more than 20,000 people loom Fort Myers for Zombicon, according the official event website.

Sinclair agrees that the nature of the festival presents challenges — challenges he said should have been addressed.

“Of course it’s an issue,” he said. “And the issue is they didn’t control weapons coming in so they couldn’t tell a real one from a fake one. If they controlled weapons coming in everything they saw waved around by the zombies would be fake.”

The solution to security at Zombicon is simple, Sinclair said.

“All they would have had to do was to put metal detectors at those access points and say ‘Hey, no weapons’. This was a specific area with specific entry points and it could have been controlled and guns could have been kept out,” he said.

Her clients death could have been avoided, he said.

“People weren’t checked. People were getting in and weapons were not checked. This could have been prevented,” Sinclair said.

Beyond the use of a metal detectors, Sinclair said the festival could implement another inexpensive technique used regularly at concerts.

“Get a wrist band. How hard is that?” he said. “You see somebody walking around without a wrist band? They’re a suspect. Security guards should challenge them.”

No arrests have been made in connection with the 2015 Zombicon shooting.

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