FORT MYERS, Fla.- Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads says he believes there’s a connection between three of the four shootings that injured seven people on Wednesday. The shootings occurred as city officials met to address gun violence in the city.
Tazyhion Matthews, 5, of Fort Myers; Orvasia Green, 17, of Lehigh Acres; Jatravia Isom, 24, and Chancey Isom, 26, both of Fort Myers, were shot while inside a vehicle near the intersection of Dale Street and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard at about 9 p.m. The victims then drove themselves to Lee Memorial Hospital.
A blue Ford vehicle with multiple bullet holes was parked outside the hospital’s emergency room entrance, surrounded by crime scene tape. The victims told investigators a white vehicle pulled up alongside them and started shooting, police said.
All are expected to survive their injuries, authorities said.
The incident was the second of four shooting incidents Wednesday night:
- Leonard Monroe Burger, 35, of Lehigh Acres, was shot at 4:25 p.m. at an apartment complex on the 2100 block of Davis Court.
- Ezekiel Burger Jr., 20, of Lehigh Acres, was found shot at the Marathon gas station near the intersection of Colonial Boulevard and Winkler Avenue at 10:48 p.m. A witness told police a red or maroon vehicle pulled alongside Burger’s vehicle while at a red light at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Colonial Boulevard and started shooting.
- Less than an hour later, Anthony Quinn Williams, 43, of Lehigh Acres, was found shot on the 2100 block of Davis court. Williams was driving his vehicle when shots were fired, police said.
Police believe the first Davis Court shooting, the shooting at Colonial, and the shooting of 4, are related. Leonard and Ezekiel Burger are father and son.
Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads says the shootings frustrate him. “Would have been a total complete tragedy if anything worse happened,” said Eads.
No witnesses have come forward.
“To my knowledge right now, there is no cooperation from anyone,” said Eads.
So how do you get cooperation?
“I wish I knew. Because if I knew I would be doing it already. Its just common decency, they are human beings,” said Eads.
LCSO and FMPD unite
But people are telling Eads they don’t feel safe, and he’s listening. Chief Eads is upping manpower, partnering with LCSO.
LCSO and FMPD are combining resources and efforts. Deputies will ride with officers, starting in the near future.
Other plans are in the works.
City leaders react
As the shootings took place, city leaders, law enforcement and residents discussed ways to decrease gun violence by focusing on high crime areas.
The timing of the meeting was not missed by City Councilman Thomas Leonardo.
“How ironic that such gun violence occurred on our streets yesterday, a day on which a conference on gun violence was held,” he wrote in an e-mail to city leaders. “As for me, it is time to call in the National Guard to help us. Enough is enough. We have been talking about this issue for far too long. It is time for us to take decisive action to clean out the vermin who infest our city.”
City Councilman Johnny Streets Jr. said the police department should work extra shifts to protect the community.
“No amount of overtime that we can pay is worth not protecting people,” he said. “So if that’s what we need to do along with the sheriff’s department and anybody else who is in law enforcement and the community.”
Fort Myers Interim Police Chief Dennis Eads wants any and all witnesses to come forward on all the shootings.
“There’s people that know everything that happened tonight,” he said Wednesday night. “There’s someone that knows every detail of everything that happened and the idea is to get them to say something. This is not going to stop until it does. So that is the root of it.”
Fort Myers residents speak out against recent shootings
Fort Myers residents say they’re tired of all the violence. Jerome Hilliard, the uncle of one of Wednesday’s shooting victims, says too many of his family members have been injured and it’s time for the violence to end.
“They shouldn’t be shooting guns, that’s what I say. Shouldn’t be shooting guns, this is not the wild, wild West, this is real,” said Hillard. “I think people are getting out of jail who done this, that’s what I think. They’re not keeping them in jail long enough.”
“We had a period of quietness for a minute there, when there wasn’t that many things going on in the Dunbar community. But now it looks like this one incident is just a reminder to us that hey, we can’t let up on this,” said Pastor Gregory Ford with the First Assembly Cornerstone church.
Some believe the violence can be curbed with a stronger police presence in the area.
“They are going to have to go out individually and build a relationship with the people. And if you don’t have a relationship with anyone, no one will trust you,” said resident Eric Walker.