FORT MYERS, Fla. - Fort Myers High School is in mourning after one of its own was gunned down over the weekend.
Jiatarious Brunson, a Sophomore and a runningback on the football team, was with 20-year-old Paul Baldwin at Renaissance Preserve off Michigan Avenue Saturday night, when both were shot. They were brought to Lee Memorial Hospital's trauma center and pronounced dead.
Staff at the school will miss Brunson's magnetic personality the most.
"If you knew him, he was a short, little rock of granite. Strong kid, worked hard. Everyone gravitated to him," said Sam Sirianni, Brunson's football coach.
Brunson, who went by the nickname "JoJo", is described as a respectful student, with good grades and a perpetual smile.
Principal Dave LaRosa was visibly emotional Monday morning describing Brunson's popularity among students and staff.
"I have the greatest job in the world, but the thing I hate most about my job is when I get a phone call that tells me (one of my students) is dead. At 1:18 Sunday morning, I got that phone call... and today is the worst day of this job that I've had," LaRosa said.
LaRosa met with teachers and the football team to cushion the news of Brunson's death, although many already heard it over the weekend.
Grief counselors are also on hand at the school.
"Fort Myers high is what it is. We're a family, and we're going to rely on each other to get through this," LaRosa said.
Sirianno doesn't know how to explain to his players a loss he can hardly understand himself but plans to use Brunson's story as a positive force.
"One thing I will say to our kids is... on those days you get up and maybe it isn't a great day, or you don't feel like working hard, put things in perspective and in his memory, let's accomplish something every day," Sirianni said.