‘Zombicon’ shooter, Jose Bonilla, sentenced to 30 years in prison

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Jose Bonilla, 24, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday for the 2015 murder of Expavious Tyrell Taylor, 20, at the “Zombicon” event in downtown Fort Myers.

Bonilla was at the Lee County Courthouse for his trial, where jury selection was slated to take place. At the last minute, he accepted a plea deal. While he was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to 30 years, he may be eligible for parole in 25 years. Bonilla is usually known for his outbursts in court, but he broke down crying.

The Zombicon festival was a large outdoor event with an estimated 20,000 people, with many wearing zombie costumes, decorated with fake blood and armed with fake firearms. When Bonilla opened fire at the festival, chaos ensued as people ran for cover.

“People running; the scene was chaotic,” said the State Attorney 20th Judicial Circuit Amira Fox. “In just seconds the lives of so many people were changed forever.”

Taylor, a collegiate athlete who was taking a break from college, was killed. Five other people were hurt. A jailhouse tip helped put Bonilla behind bars. He was previously arrested for child abuse, domestic violence and trespassing.

Taylor’s sister, Amanda Andrews, remembered her brother fondly.

“He was everything that someone would want in a little brother,” Andrews said. “He was my gentle giant.”

Since the Zombicon festival, the City of Fort Myers has taken several steps to make it safer, by adding more surveillance cameras, a real-time center that helps track where calls are coming in and how officers respond to them, as well as a network of microphones that listen for gunfire.

Kevin Anderson, a Fort Myers councilmember,  said the technology had helped lower crime in the city, but he acknowledges more can be done.

“Technology is great, it’s very useful, but we should never lose sight of the human aspect of everything,” Anderson said. “So we need to continue to work on building our relationship with the community, especially those communities where crime is an issue.”

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