Can phone cameras help catch the ZombiCon shooter?

A street festival shooting has left one dead and four injured. Now, Fort Meyers detectives are hoping that witnesses will come forward with photo and video accounts of the incident to help find the shooter, who remains at large. 

Melissa Montoya-Ocampo/The News-Press
Emergency medical workers and police work next to a person at the scene of shooting Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, at ZombiCon in Fort Myers, Fla. Police say a shooting at the gathering killed one person and injured four others.

In the Fort Meyers, Florida, shootings that left one dead and four wounded Saturday, detectives are hoping that photos and videos taken at the scene by eyewitnesses will shed light on the crime.

Shots rang out late Saturday night at ZombiCon, a street festival in Fort Meyers in which attendees dress up as zombies to see bands and DJs perform. The ninth annual event was expected have attracted more than 20,000 people. 

Police says one man died at the scene and four others were taken to the Lee Memorial Hospital for non-fatal injuries. As of early Sunday morning, the shooter remains at large.

According to Lt. Victor Medico of the Fort Myers Police Department, shots were fired around 11:44 p.m. The deceased victim was found on the same block where the shooting began.

"There was a lot of witnesses down here, there were a lot of people taking pictures, videos with their cellphone,"  Medico told the Fort Meyers News-Press. "Anything that could help with this investigation would be greatly appreciated."

In video footage taken after police had arrived, the face-painted and costume clad festival goers fled through the downtown street in confusion and what reporters at the scene described as chaos. Many were capturing the unfolding disorder with their cell phone cameras.

"It cleared out fast and cop cars and ambulances came," Savannah Holden, who watched the panicked scene from a hotel balcony, told CNN.

After marking the entrance of the plaza with crime scene tape, rifle carrying officers patrolled the streets, evacuating the blocks and bars on site.

The victims’ identities have yet to be disclosed, and circumstances surrounding the shooting remain uncertain.  

In a Facebook post Saturday, ZombiCon organizers said they were “deeply saddened” by the events of the night.

“We take the safety of our patrons very seriously and take precautions in hiring security and police officers for our annual event,” the statement says. “Our prayers go out to the family members and individuals involved in the incident.”

Proceeds of ZombiCon go to a non-profit organization called Pushing DaiZies, a local charity of artists who organize creative events and raise money to send kids to art camps.

Fort Myers Police is encouraging people to come forward with videos, photos, and other documentation of the crime. Anyone who has information is asked to call the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 321-7700 or 1-800-780-TIPS for Crime Stoppers. Tipsters can choose to remain anonymous, the News-Press reports.

Following another downtown Fort Meyers shooting earlier this week, Mayor Randy Henderson says surveillance cameras could be one way of preventing gun violence.

"Cameras have proven to be very useful in catching people. Seeing is believing," Mayor Henderson told NBC2. He’s currently working with the district’s congressman Curt Clawson to seek federal grants that would finance the installation.

Examining review reports for surveillance programs in European and American cities, there’s mixed evidence on the effectiveness of the technology. In Glasgow, Scotland, for instance, researchers found that crime had actually increased by 9 percent after the implementation of surveillance cameras.

Still, there have been handfuls of high-profile cases solved by video accounts. The Boston Marathon bombers, for example, were identified from surveillance photos. And videos of police brutality – including the chilling video of Eric Garner, a man who died under police custody – have helped spark a national dialogue on race and racism.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.