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Clues, but still no suspect yet in Zombicon shooting

By Staff | Oct 20, 2015

Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads said he has gotten numerous tips from witnesses who were at the Zombicon shootings in downtown Fort Myers in Saturday that left one dead and five wounded.

Eads addressed the media Monday afternoon in a 10-minute news conference, where he fielded questions on everything from the suspect’s identity to the difficulty in identifying anyone since festival attendees were in costume and brandishing fake and real weapons.

Before the news conference, one of the victims in the shooting was seen leaving the area, being driven away by a friend. He had no comment.

Eads said he was guarded, not wanting to compromise the ongoing investigation, but he did concede that social media has done a lot to move the case forward.

“It’s helped us. We need as much as possible. We have people going out on their own and that’s great,” Eads said. “We have some leads that we hope we can report on very soon.”

Eads said one of the people they are interested in speaking with is a young man who had a rebel flag. He is described as being in his late teens to early 20s, white or Hispanic, dressed in a black shirt, with a red and black ball cap.

As far as the thousands of people wearing costumes were concerned, Eads said that didn’t mean as much as the chaos that ensued in the immediate aftermath, with people fleeing the scene.

“It was just people trying to get away from the gunshots and not wanting to become victims,” Eads said. “We’re collecting videos from other places and we hope it will be released by the end of the day that will help us get more witnesses identified.”

Eads praised the officer who got the area cleared quickly without incident, as well as the security people who did the best they could.

But with the issue of the toy and real weapons carried around by the thousands of revelers, Eads said that will be looked into in the future to see if that will be allowed again.

“It is very difficult to determine the difference between a fake and real gun. At minimum it was a nightmare, especially after the shots were fired. At that point, you had 15,000 to 20,000 suspects,” Eads said.

Organizers say they want to hold the event again next year. Eads said there will be discussions regarding how to move forward.

Eads didn’t say if this was a random shooting. The surviving victims, whom Eads said did not know each other, were treated for injuries, released, and then interviewed the following morning.

With the recent spate of violence in Fort Myers in general, there were concerns that this could happen and could keep people from going into the River District. Eads discounted the notion, saying he saw the typical crowd in the morning.

“I think it’s a safe place to go. We’re going to do what we can to make it safer, but you have risks no matter where you go in life,” Eads said, adding the department is looking into ways to make things safer.

Police are asking if anyone has any information to contact the department or Crime Stoppers.

“I’m confident we’ll get to the bottom of this and find out who’s responsible,” Eads said. “It’s safe to go downtown and have a good time.”