Shooter at Florida zombie festival gets 30 years in prison

Posted at 6:44 AM, January 14, 2020 and last updated 9:46 PM, May 16, 2023

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — The man who shot several people, killing one, at a zombie-themed festival in Florida more than four years ago was sentenced on Monday to 30 years in prison.

Jose Raul Bonilla, 24, was sentenced after pleading no contest to second-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a delinquent as part of a deal with Lee County prosecutors.

Zombicon was one of the most popular celebrations in southwest Florida, attracting about 20,000 people in October 2015. Investigators said the event was winding down when Bonilla began shooting into the downtown Fort Myers crowd.

Expavious Tyrell Taylor, 20, died at the scene, while David Perez, Tyree Hunter, Isaiah Knight, Kyle Roberts and John Parsons were wounded.

The city paid $40,000 to settle a lawsuit with Taylor’s estate. Roberts and Tyree received $7,499 each from the city.

The FBI began helping Fort Myers police shortly after the deadly event. No motive was ever reported, but Bonilla’s arrest followed interviews with hundreds of witnesses, as well as reviewing surveillance video and collecting tips through the region’s Crime Stoppers program.

The city cut ties with Zombicon organizers shortly after the shooting, ending the event’s nine-year run.