TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) – Gunfire erupted at a Florida festival that attracts thousands of people dressed in zombie costumes, killing one person, injuring five others and sending crowds of frightened people rushing for cover, local media and authorities said on Sunday.
The News-Press newspaper, citing police, reported that Expavious Tyrell Taylor, 20, of Okeechobee was killed in the shooting shortly before midnight on Saturday at Florida Zombicon in downtown Fort Myers. The event was expected to draw 20,000 adults and children.
The flurry of gunfire that sent crowds of people scurrying for safety was caught on cell phone video and posted on the website of WFTX, the Fox news affiliate in the area.
“We started running because we saw a horde of people running and we heard two really loud bangs,” an unidentified man told the station in a video.
Four people were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Victor Medico, a spokesman of the Fort Myers Police Department, said to the News-Press. A sixth person was shot but refused medical attention, the newspaper reported.
The shooter remained at large on Sunday morning, the newspaper reported.
The annual event, staged about two weeks before Halloween, brings zombie-themed activities, including music and performance artists, to the streets of Fort Myers, according to its website.
Event organizers said on Facebook they were “deeply saddened by the news of what happened within the footprint of our event”.
It comes during a month in which communities across the United States are celebrating the Halloween holiday, including many popular events for adults offering spooky thrills celebrating zombies, or fictional horror-movie characters popularized by George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” and other films in the genre.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein and Brendan O’Brien, editing by Gareth Jones)
Image: “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), via Wikimedia