Expavious Tyrell Taylor: A promising life cut short

OKEECHOBEE — Expavious “Tyrell” Taylor, 20, was shot and killed Saturday at the ninth annual ZombiCon, a large zombie-themed art and music street festival in Fort Myers. Six others were wounded.

While Tyrell’s death is tragic, his life is an inspiration to many in Okeechobee and around the big lake, where Tyrell has relatives and friends from LaBelle, to Clewiston, to Okeechobee and all points in between.

Tyrell was one of the original Chobee Steelers, a well-known steel drum band.

Tyrell was one of the original Chobee Steelers, a well-known Okeechobee steel drum band.

Tyrell was one of the original Chobee Steelers, a well-known steel drum band.

“He was one of my babies. I just loved him so much,” said organizer Shirlean Grahman.

If you had ever had the pleasure of meeting Tyrell Taylor, you could say the same. Tyrell made everyone feel loved, cared for and a part of his family from the moment he flashed that smile and made eye contact.

He affectionately referred to one of his high school teachers, Jean Sherlock, as “Ma,” refusing to call her Mrs. Sherlock.

Tyrell was no stranger to loss and hardship, having lost his father, mother, grandmother and stillborn child.

Through it all, Tyrell remained faithful and driven to succeed in life no matter the odds stacked against him.

Tyrell spent his early high school years at Okeechobee High School where he is fondly remembered as a member of the football and basketball teams as well as a member of the Brahman Band.

He moved to Clewiston for his senior year of high school, and concentrated on football, in hopes of getting a scholarship.

Tyrell 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 who were returning from another family member’s funeral.

Tyrell and his girlfriend reportedly wavered in the ill-fated decision to attend the Fort Myers festival on Saturday.Tryell Taylor life cut short pic2

Okeechobee High School varsity football coach, Chris Branham who coached Tyrell for two years said, “We are deeply saddened for the loss of Tyrell. This young man had overcome so many obstacles in his personal life and was attending A.S.A. JUCO in Miami. We were so proud of him and his perseverance. It is such a travesty to have lost an innocent life to such senseless actions of another. Tyrell always kept a smile and had such a good spirit about him in his walk through life. He will be missed by his Brahman family as well as the Tiger family he joined last year. The time and conversations we had are precious to us all and we want to send his family our condolences.”

While his former OHS basketball coach, Shawn Hays, noted, “Tyrell was an extremely important part of our program for three years. He came up to varsity half way through his freshman year and immediately brought us some much needed size and toughness. He was always good defensively and by his junior year his offensive game had improved dramatically.” Mr. Hays went on to note, “Tyrell was a kid that worked hard and did anything you asked. He was an emotional kid. Sunday was a hard day for me, I lost a player and a friend who I had become close to. Tyrell could make me so angry on the court and later he would give me a little smile and I would forget about what I was mad about. Tyrell overcame so many obstacles to make it to college and play football. Through everything, Tyrell persevered and became a success. I will miss him dearly!”

Mr. Hays fondly remembered one play from Tyrell’s freshman year where Tyrell “caught the ball at the three-point line and took two dribbles and threw down a monster dunk.” Mr. Hays remembers Tyrell checking in every morning and asking how he was doing. Mr. Hays says he will never forget Tyrell.

Band students and boosters learned of the news upon returning from the Crown Jewel Competition in the wee hours Sunday morning, where those who knew Tyrell were stunned to find out that one of their band family was lost to a senseless tragedy. Tyrell was known for his towering presence in the “pit” playing the drums. OHS Band Director, Clint LaFlam, remembered Tyrell as hard working and notes, “From the day I met him in 7th grade, he always impressed me with his level of respect for others. Having him as a student for two years was a joy and his presence was felt throughout the band. He will forever be greatly missed.”

A Go Fund Me page has been set up by the faculty and staff at ASA College to help Tyrell’s family with expenses. Click here: https://www.gofundme.com/rw6phvcs.

Okeechobee man killed in ZombiCon shooting

Special to the Okeechobee News

FORT MYERS — A street festival in Fort Myers turned deadly Saturday evening with a local man killed and six others wounded.

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

Expavious Tyrell Taylor, 20, of Okeechobee died at the scene. Six others were injured, according the latest Fort Myers Police Department report.

According to a Public Information Officer Lieutenant Victor Medico, of the Fort Myers Police Department (FMPD), investigators have received surveillance video from the Los Cabos Cantina, 2226 First St., which is near where the shooting took place.

FMPD investigators are using the video in hopes of finding more potential witnesses of the shooting that took Mr. Taylor’s life. That shooting took place in the 2200 block of First Street.

Thanks to that video, Lt. Medico indicated investigators have come up with a suspect that is described as a white or possibly Hispanic male in his late teens or early 20s. He was dressed in a black T-shirt and wore a flat-billed black and red ball cap.

That suspect was seen firing a black semi-automatic handgun. After the shooting, the suspect fled westbound on First Street toward the federal courthouse.

In addition to Mr. Taylor, six people were injured in the shooting. Four were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital. One person was treated at the scene and refused transport. The last victim suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound (laceration) and refused medical attention, according to the FMPD report.

ZombiCon features bands and DJs performing on stage. It is sponsored by Pushing Daizies, a local artists’ charity.

In an official statement, organizers said they were “deeply saddened by the news of what happened within the footprint of our event. We take the safety of our patrons very seriously and take precautions in hiring security and police officers for our annual event. Our prayers go out to the family members and individuals involved in the incident.”

Four shooting victims were transported to Lee Memorial Hospital; none of them had life-threatening injuries. Two shooting victims refused treatment, according to the police report.

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

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