Grieving family speaks about fatal Winn-Dixie shooting, video
Relatives horrified that bystanders didn't render aid to dying man
DANIA BEACH, Fla. – The family of a 22-year-old man who was gunned down outside a Winn-Dixie store in Dania Beach spoke to Local 10 News on Thursday about cellphone video that shows a small crowd standing by, but failing to help a dying Ellyaher Lanza as he gasps for air while face-down on the concrete.
"My brother was laying there and nobody helped," Lanza's sister, Claudia Aguilar, said between sobs. "He gasped for air two times and nobody helped him. The security guard didn't help him, the cop didn't help him. He was breathing and they just left him facing to the floor like he was nothing."
A security guard told the crowd that Lanza, whom family called "EJ," is dead in the video, but he can clearly be seen gasping for air seconds later, prompting one distraught bystander to cry out, "Oh my God! Call somebody!"
"He's breathing for air like he was trying to tell them, 'No, I'm still alive, come help me,'" Aguilar said.
The witness who took the video said he began filming about three minutes after he heard gunshots while shopping inside the supermarket. The video is one minute and 20 seconds long, and no one is seen in it rendering aid to Lanza, who remains face-down on the concrete.
Just before the video cuts off, Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Laughten Hall is seen with his emergency kit preparing to render aid to Lanza.
"Upon checking Mr. Lanza for injuries, [he] did not have a pulse and was not breathing," Hall wrote in his report.
Relatives were also appalled that the alleged killer, Jeffrey Collie, 71, is seen in the video standing over Lanza with what appears to be his handgun still with him, holstered at his side.
"He just stood over the body like he had done something right," Aguilar said. "There was no remorse. He should have put that gun away and called 911."
Collie told deputies that a friend told him that Lanza had damaged his truck, prompting him to find him at the shopping plaza and hold him at gunpoint until deputies arrived. Collie claimed that during a struggle, Lanza grabbed his arm prompting him to accidentally fire the weapon, but deputies report that surveillance video from the store contradicted his story.
Deputies said the video showed Collie shove Lanza against a wall and held him at gunpoint before firing the fatal shot.
"The victim does finally get away from the defendant and steps backward, creating distance from the defendant," an arrest report said. "The victim is then observed falling to the ground and becoming unresponsive while the defendant has his arm outstretched in possession of a handgun."
While Collie, who remains in jail without bond on a second-degree murder charge, claims Lanza had asked him for money in the parking lot prior to the incident, relatives said it wasn't like him to do that. They said he was working two jobs, including a regular shift at a Hot Tomatoes restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.
"He was saving money to take care of the family," Lanza's sister, Josseline Aguilar, said. "He cared more about other people than himself. He wasn't supposed to die like that."
The family has set up a "Justice For EJ" page in part to help pay for Lanza's funeral.
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