HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Two members of the South Florida law enforcement family died this weekend after contracting COVID-19.
Both of the men were in their late-30s and the people closest to them feel this is further proof that the new coronavirus should be taken seriously.
On Sunday, Local 10 News spoke with the brother of Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett, who died just one week after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
"He was the type of person that had a conversation with you and made you know and feel that you were the only one in the room," said Darren Bennett. "He had that gift, his smile was addictive and captivating, and that's Shannon."
Bennett, who was 39 years old, is one of the latest victims of COVID-19.
He was also a 12-year veteran of the Broward Sheriff's Office, a school resource officer Deerfield Beach Elementary, and an openly gay deputy who worked diligently to bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and local law enforcement.
"His legacy will always remain that he cared for, supported and would travel high, low, near and far for the people he loved," said Darren.
Deputy Bennett reported feeling sick on March 23rd and went to the emergency room just days later. He died late Friday night.
"We saw a lot of improvement, and it was just shocking to know that he took a turn for the worse," Darren said. "Got the phone call that we all dread to get on Friday (night) at 10:25."
Bennett's death shines a light on a major question being asked across the country, and that's whether enough is being done to protect first responders, the people whose job, every day, is to protect us.
Another deputy, a member of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, also died from the virus.
38-year-old Sergeant Jose Diaz Ayala had been dealing with other health issues before he was infected with COVID-19.
PBSO posted a video on its social media pages Sunday; their message mirroring the words of Darren Bennett.
A Message From Sheriff @RicBradshaw regarding the terrible loss of our Seargent, Jose Diaz Ayala due to the #coronavirus.— PBSO (@PBCountySheriff) April 5, 2020
"To Protect Was Their Oath, To Honor Them Is Our Duty." pic.twitter.com/4I3NWqmrPg
The Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council announced Sunday it had begun a new fund for victims of coronavirus, with the donations going to families of Broward first responders who die from COVID-19.
Click here to contribute to the fund.