The heartbreaking fallout from a drive-by shooting in Parramore earlier this month continues as Orlando police still have no suspects and are actively seeking witnesses from the community, with little luck. The gunfire erupted outside a building in the Landings at Carver Park, leaving six people shot and claiming the lives of Gino Nicolas and Tanya Skeen.
Nicolas was a Parramore youth leader and a poster child for the City of Orlando’s efforts in the historically African-American neighborhood, despite the ongoing gentrification and damaging policies impacting the residents. Nicolas’ death shook the community and hit close to home for officials in City Hall. There is another memorial service for Gino Nicolas on April 30th.
Tanya Skeen, a mother of three children, was reportedly standing in her kitchen when bullets flew through her window. An online support page for Skeen posted that her 12-year-old daughter witnessed her mother being shot and called the murder “senseless violence taking place in our communities.” Tanya Skeen is described as a loving mother, sister, daughter, aunt and friend to many people. Skeen was “an amazing woman, always supportive of her kids” and “should would give her all just to make someone smile.” Her loved ones say Skeen’s smile would light up an entire room.
According to community activist Ezell Harris, who is the Director of Floridians Monitoring Law Enforcement, Gino Nicolas and Ms. Tanya Skeen were not the intended targets. Nicolas is the godson of Harris.
“They were completely innocent,” Harris said in an email sent to local media.
Harris met with Det. Teresa Sprague on April 22nd regarding the murder investigation.
“In terms of what led up to the shooting, I was informed by a few people out in the streets that there was a beef in a downtown bar between a couple of the victims and the alleged shooters,” Harris wrote. “That story was also confirmed to me by Det. Sprague that there was so type of altercation between two groups (or a few) of black men. Video recordings of who was in the bar has been seized by the JHIT. Gino Nicolas likely had no idea about this incident and the likely of retaliation. He never saw or knew it was coming down.”
Despite the lack of official suspects, apparently police are aware of who the shooters may be.
“I believe that it has already been established as to who the shooters are, it is just a matter of trying to get witnesses to come forward,” Harris said in the email. “I was told by a law enforcement official that this case is a very difficult one to solve in terms of placing a gun in the suspects hands. Very few individuals if any can give a description of the car.”
This is another example of the Orlando Police Department’s failure to repair and build relationships with residents in the community. In addition to a lack of trust and cooperation from residents, apparently threats are also being made to intimidate friends of the victims online. “There has been threats from the victims and friends of the victims on social media such as Instagram,” Harris said.
According to Harris, Nicolas was shot twice, with one bullet hitting him in the back and piercing his heart while also sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. Harris said he was told the account of what happened by Nicolas’ cousin Jurde Voicy, who is also Harris’ godson.
“So people began to scatter in directions away from the flying bullets,” Harris said in his email. “Gino did not initially hear the gunshots and reacted too late. None of the fleeing acquaintances even bothered to warn him. It was each man for himself.”
This is just the latest shooting in the City of Orlando and sadly is not an isolated incident. The heartbreaking and senseless violence continues to rage throughout Central Florida as politicians pretend everything is fine. For residents and loved ones of the victims, justice is all they seek.
“I am humbly trying to do my part in getting these killers off the street before they kill again or get killed,” Harris added.