Hundreds of zombies ran screaming through downtown Fort Myers late Saturday night, fleeing in terror as gunshots rang out in the night. When police forced their way through the panicked costumed crowd, they found six attendees at that night's packed ZombiCon bleeding in the street. One man in a "creepy clown mask" lay dead from the gunfire.
Today, police have identified the victim: 20-year-old Expavious Tyrell Taylor, a football player at North Miami Beach's ASA College.
In Fort Myers, police are still trying piece together what exactly happened Saturday night during one of the Gulf Coast town's largest public gatherings of the year. The event, organized by a local group of artists, draws hundreds of people in zombie makeup to hear more than 30 bands playing on eight stages around downtown.
Taylor apparently headed west to relax. The towering, six-foot-four offensive lineman had starred in high school at Okeechobee High before heading to Miami to play for the Silver Storm, a junior-college program that plays home games at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah.
The football player hadn't had an easy life, relatives say; he'd lost a child, his mother, his father, and a grandmother, one cousin tells the Naples Daily News, but Taylor never wavered. "He was always lifting spirits... making everyone smile," Kebby Felton tells the Daily News.
On his Facebook page, Taylor regularly posted religious messages between status updates about football practice and his schoolwork. Thursday, Taylor wrote, "Classes done for the day thank goodness now go home and relax for the day/weekend."
By Saturday, he'd ended up as part of the ZombiCon crowd, wearing a clown mask and wandering the streets. That's when someone opened fire.
Update 11:15: Police have released a new video that shows the moment shots rang out. It shows the suspect — a white or Hispanic male in his early 20s with a semi-automatic handgun — fleeing after the shooting:
Videos uploaded to YouTube show crowds running in all directions after the gunfire erupted:
"At about 11:45 p.m., Fort Myers Police received a call of shots fired at the ZombiCon event," Lt. Victor Medico, a spokesman for the department, told reporters. "Officers were there working the scene and responded."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
At the scene, cops found five victims with non-life-threatening wounds and Taylor already dead.
Fort Myers Police are still searching for more information about the suspect caught on video and asking the public for tips, Medico says in a statement sent to reporters this afternoon:
FMPD is asking that anyone who attended the event and may have captured vital investigative information on their smart phone 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)
In the meantime, Taylor's friends and relatives have been posting grieving messages on Facebook. “He’s got 100 brothers hurting right now,” ASA's head football coach, Ernest Jones, tells the Miami Herald.