Remember the victims
In July of 2016, this space offered an editorial that hit hard at the heart of our editorial board members, parents and grandparents that we were.
Our community — yes, our community although the incident that prompted its writing occurred “over the bridge” in Fort Myers” — was devastated by the type of incident we all liked to tell ourselves could never happen here, a mass shooting outside a dance party that had been organized for teens.
Two died. Fourteen were shot and wounded in a spray of bullets fired into the crowd of exiting party goers and those picking them up in the parking lot of Club Blu on Evans Avenue.
It happened here despite the fact that Southwest Florida has a good and competent law enforcement presence.
Despite security, including armed security, at the event.
On Wednesday, the State Attorney’s Office called a late afternoon press conference.
The long-awaited news announced was that the multi-agency Club Blu Task Force had made five arrests, serving multiple warrants in a 15-minute swoop on those now accused of being involved in the shooting that resulted in the deaths of teens Sean Archilles and Stef’an Strawder.
We’ll not address here the details of the arrests of the five individuals now each charged with two counts of second degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. We have reported that information in the breaking news story published Thursday on our website.
While the arrests certainly are an important story, we agree with State Attorney Amira Fox who said, while announcing that suspects were now in custody and charged, that the victims and their families should be first in our thoughts.
So here we will remember the dead.
Sean, who was just 14.
He was going into the eighth grade.
Stef’an, who was 18.
He would have been a senior that fall at Lehigh Senior High School where he was a star basketball player.
We offer condolences to those who love them, miss them, and mourn still, now with refreshed grief.
May your hearts find peace. We can think of nothing worse than the loss of a child.
We also note here the task force, which includes the Fort Myers Police Department; the State Attorney’s Office, including its Cold Case Homicide Unit; FBI, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Thank you for your indefatigable efforts related to the investigation you have named Operation Club Blu. We sometimes forget that law enforcement is both the final caretaker of the dead who have lost their lives to criminal violence and the near-last resort of the families left behind.
Your efforts are appreciated.
The task force continues to seek additional information related to the investigation, which is not over. The State Attorney’s Office’s tip line remains active and the agency asks anyone with information pertaining to the weapons, locations, or events of that night to call the State Attorney’s Office Cold Case Homicide Unit Tip Line 1-833-987-2611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.
And, please, reach out with information if you are able to assist.
— Breeze editorial