“He was always smiling. His smile was infectious. Everybody around him felt better because he was around,” said Clewiston High School football coach Steven Barnes, three days after an unexpected tragedy took one of Clewiston High School’s graduates.
Expavious “Tyrell” Taylor, 20, was shot and killed at the ninth annual ZombieCon festival in Fort Myers on Saturday, Oct. 17.
Five others were wounded and taken to local hospitals in Lee County or treated at the scene. The zombie-themed art and music festival was expected to attract in excess of 20,000 people to the streets of downtown Ft. Myers.
While Tyrell’s death is tragic, his life is an inspiration to many in Clewiston and around the 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 in Okeechobee and across Florida, and played sports at both Okeechobee High School and Clewiston High School.
Tyrell spent his early high school years at Okeechobee High, 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 where he played football for the Tigers and was a member of the Criminal Justice Program.
His coaches and teachers remember him as an exceptional player and student despite the tragedies he suffered in his personal life.
“He was a great young man. He always had a smile on his face, he seemed to brighten up the room. He went through a lot of things in his life, from losing his dad to his mom and then his grandmother who raised him. But instead of going down the wrong road he continued to do things that would better himself. Going to college was one of those things,” said Tiger head coach Pete Walker, who coached Tyrell during his senior season at Clewiston High.
Tyrell realized his dream of playing football in college, and his trip to ZombieCon was made possible only due to a bye week from the football field and a much-desired visit home to see family who was returning from another family member’s funeral.
The ill-fated decision to attend the event was also one that was not a sure thing, as reportedly Tyrell and his girlfriend wavered in the decision to attend the event.
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.”
At the city commission meeting held Monday night in Clewiston, Commissioner Kristine Petersen, who leads the Criminal Justice Program at Clewiston High, remembered Tyrell and his infectious smile.
“He was a young man that was bold enough to have a faith and share that faith with high school students. He was a very nice young man. He had a wonderful smile on his face every time you saw him and would take the time the speak to any student who looked as though they needed a shoulder. We want to say what could have should have been, but God has a time and place for every event,” said Commissioner Petersen.
Ft. Myers Police Department released a preliminary description of the suspect, however, no arrest has been made at this time.
Clewiston High School FFA members, as well as members of Criminal Justice, will be holding a Fallen Tiger Fundraiser this Friday, Oct. 23 to raise money for funeral expenses for Tryell’s family.
Burgers, cooked by FFA members, chips and drinks will available this Friday to anyone who purchases a ticket now through Thursday.
Tickets for a burger and chips cost $5, tickets for burgers chips and a drink cost $6.
Tickets can be purchased from Mr. Edmonds, Ms. Goffe or Ms. Petersen, reachable through the front office at Clewiston High School, or through any FFA or FPSA student.
Meals can either be delivered or picked up at the Clewiston High Agricultural Department, located at the rear of the school using the north entrance.
For more information, contact Clewiston High School at 863-983-1520.