Man accused of ZombiCon shooting to stand trial

FORT MYERS – The man accused of killing a former Okeechobee resident at the 2015 ZombiCon festival in Fort Myers will go to trial, following Tuesday’s ruling by a 20th Judicial Circuit Judge.

On May 29, accused shooter Jose Raul Bonilla, 23, of Immokalee was found competent to stand trial. His next court date is July 25. Judge J. Frank Porter said his ruling was based on the reports of three doctors who evaluated Bonilla.

Jose Raul Bonilla, 23

Bonilla is charged with second degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Expavious “Tyrell” Taylor, 20. He is also charged with five counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of tampering with evidence.

The Feb. 26, 2018 arrest came more than two years after the shooting. According to statements given at a Feb. 26 press conference, Fort Myers Police Department investigators identified Bonilla and spent hundreds of hours reviewing video and still images from the festival and interviewing witnesses to build the case. The Fort Myers Police Department was assisted in the lengthy investigation by the FBI, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

At the time of his arrest, Bonilla was in jail in Collier County, awaiting trial on charges of child abuse in a 2017 case.

Bonilla’s attorney has questioned whether his client was mentally competent to stand trial, which resulted in his evaluation by doctors.

About 20,000 people, many of them in zombie costume and makeup were in attendance at the ninth annual ZombiCon in downtown Fort Myers on Oct. 17, 2015 when shots were fired.

Mr. Taylor died at the scene. Six others were injured, according to the Fort Myers Police Department report. Five were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital; one refused transport.

Mr. Taylor was a former resident of Okeechobee, with ties to Clewiston.

He started high school in Okeechobee, where he was a member of the band and played on the football and basketball teams. He was also one of the original members of the ’Chobee Steelers steel drum band. In his senior year of high school, he moved to Clewiston where he continued his high school football career. He realized his dream of playing football in college, and his trip to ZombieCon in Ft. Myers was made possible only due to a bye week from the football field and a much desired visit home to see family.

Following the 2015 shooting, Fort Myers canceled future ZombiCon events.

Pushing DaiZies, the organizers of ZombiCon, made the following statement on Feb. 27: “With the announcement yesterday of the arrest of the suspected shooter, the organizers behind ZombiCon express a sense of relief that an arrest has been made for the shooting that occurred at the Ninth annual ZombiCon event on October 17, 2015.”

“We thank the Fort Myers Police Department and all law enforcement for not giving up and tenaciously going after the culprit,” stated Janet DeMarco. “The organizers of the much-beloved community event, as the rest of the area, will be watching closely as the case unfolds.”

Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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