Fort Myers had been declared unsafe for zombies months before Monday’s mass shooting.
Back in October, the organizers of the Florida city’s annual ZombieCon announced they would not be returning after five people were shot at that year’s event. A 20-year-old college football player died.
Yet, other than the once-a-year zombies, nobody who was not directly affected by the bloodshed paid much attention to that 2015 carnage. The next two mass shootings in Fort Myers received even less notice.
The same likely would have also been true of the one just after midnight Monday at Club Blu even though two teenagers were killed and 19 wounded, including a 12-year-old.
But because this mass shooting was at a nightclub, it immediately brought to mind the June 11 killing of 49 people at Pulse in Orlando by a gunman who was one of the lonely losers drawn to ISIS.
For a brief time, the mass shooting at Club Blu became a subject of intense focus by both law enforcement and the media. Then came an announcement that transformed a scramble into a shrug even though the dead included an 18-year-old basketball player of great promise and a 14-year-old who leaves behind a twin brother.
“The Fort Myers Police Department would like to confirm that this incident is not an act of terror (as it has been referred) or terrorists.”
Instead, the shooting appeared to be just more gangbanging such as rages in American cities with such frequency that it is reported in year-to-date statistics instead of at the top of the evening news. The country did not even shrug when 47 people were shot in Chicago just this past weekend, raising the total there for the year to just under 2,300. The killing of bystanders tends to rouse some interest, especially if the victim is a baby, but even that is quickly forgotten.
Unless, of course, you happen to live in a neighborhood where catching a stray bullet is a constant danger. The local paper in Fort Myers reported on a woman who lives with steel hurricane shutters pulled down in all weathers after her living room window was shot out. Nobody suspected ISIS.
Just as ISIS proved to have nothing to do with the gunfire at Club Blu or any of the three other mass shootings in Fort Myers in the last nine months. Those were preceded by a mass shooting in 2014 in which five died, two of them children, aged 6 and 2.
One counterterrorism investigator who joined in the scramble early Monday after the initial reports of another nightclub shooting in Florida had previously worked street crime. He allowed that he was disheartened to see how public interest evaporated almost instantly when it became known the Club Blu gunfire was not a terrorist attack.
The investigator suggested that those who join gangs do so for the same underlying reasons as those who join ISIS. He did not need to say that dead is dead, whether the bullets are fired by a gangbanger or by a terrorist.
Among those murdered Monday was 18-year-old Stef’An Strawder. He had been on Facebook on Sunday evening.
“I’m Thinking About Going To This Party Who All Going?” he asked.
He was apparently talking about what has been variously described as a “birthday bash” and a “swimsuit and glow” party for teens at Club Blu. He was leaving a few minutes after midnight when as many as five young gunmen began firing in the street. He fell fatally wounded.
Also murdered was 14-year-old Sean Archilles. He was rushed to the hospital. His twin brother, who styles his name as DSean on Facebook, went online while the doctors were trying to save him.
“Why me why him man I told y’all something was gonna happen no one listens to dsean now he got shot man I’m praying for him.”
A short time later, DSean posted again.
“R.i.p Sean Archilles 03/28/02 to 07/25/16”
By then, police had taken three young men into custody and were looking for others. At least one of the trio appears to have been a close friend of a 17-year-old who was found shot to death in 2014.
In that still unsolved case, the dead teen was the new father of one child. The birth of another was imminent. And that meant two youngsters had a father who was shot to death before he was 18.
As detectives continued to work on the Club Blu case, the Democrats were starting their convention up in Philadelphia. Bernie Sanders might have beat Hillary Clinton despite the sandbagging by the DNC were it not for his opposition to holding gun companies liable for the unending carnage.
That gave her a way to challenge Sanders and claim herself as the truer champion for social justice. She, in so doing, forced herself to speak more about gun control than she might have otherwise. She might even try to do something about it if she gets elected.
The folks who worry about ISIS but shrug at the other killings fear only for themselves and perhaps their own kind.
Meanwhile, too many cities are unsafe even for zombies.