A mentor of the 20-year-old who was shot and killed early Sunday morning at the Westwood Apartments in Fort Myers says the young man was sleeping at a friend’s apartment when he was accidentally shot and killed by his younger brother.
Jontavius Kevon Carter was shot around 4:46 a.m. and was driven to Lee Memorial Hospital, where he later died from his injury.
Patrick Comer, who worked with Carter through the program Destination Graduation, said he heard from Carter’s family that his brother was “messing around with a handgun and didn’t think it was loaded.”
“It went off, but Jontavius was sleeping at the time,” Comer said.
The Fort Myers Police Department is investigating the death as a case of manslaughter, and has not made any arrests or named a suspect.
The Police Department hasn’t commented on the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn would not comment on whether investigators believe the shooting was accidental and said detectives are still conducting interviews to determine what happened.
Carter’s death is the 19th homicide in Fort Myers this year.
Comer said Carter graduated in May from Dunbar High School through Destination Graduation, a work program started in 2010 through Southwest Florida Works that offers students mentoring and work readiness as ways to help at-risk students stay in school and graduate.
Carter was one of the program’s first students.
“It was a struggle at times, but he stayed with it,” Comer said. “He didn’t need to turn his life around. He just needed to get focused.”
Comer said he wants to make sure people understand Carter was a “good guy” and not a “street thug.”
“This wasn’t drug-related,” he said. “I don’t want people to think it was a bad kid shot by another bad kid.”
Carter worked at the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.
Bedzaida Bryen worked with him and said he was well-liked by co-workers and volunteers
“He was a pretty cool kid,” Bryen said. “He was happy about his life.”
Bryen said she remembers how proud Carter was when he graduated from high school and brought his cap and gown with him to work so co-workers who couldn’t attend the graduation ceremony could get a picture of him in them.
“He had a plan for his future,” she said. “He wanted to be an electrician.”
She recalled a co-worker bringing Carter a cake to work in August to celebrate his 20th birthday.
“He went around and made sure everyone had a slice,” she said.
Comer said Carter had hopes of leaving for Jacksonville in September to begin job training through Job Corps but was put on a waiting list to begin the program.
“We wanted to get him out of the area,” Comer said, adding Carter was one of the many students he sees struggling to succeed because of their surroundings. “That’s just the environment some of these kids are in. They just don’t know any different.”