Teen shooting victim likely not intended target, family says

Scott McIntyre/Staff 
 Jarixsa Cadena, left, leans to console Zalian Brooks, 12, Kanasha Isaac's younger brother, at Gerardo Yslas' house in Immokalee on Monday afternoon. Yslas' home was a common hangout of Isaac and the rest of their family after school. Several family members of the family have been making their way through the Yslas house since Isaac's death to be together.

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Scott McIntyre/Staff Jarixsa Cadena, left, leans to console Zalian Brooks, 12, Kanasha Isaac's younger brother, at Gerardo Yslas' house in Immokalee on Monday afternoon. Yslas' home was a common hangout of Isaac and the rest of their family after school. Several family members of the family have been making their way through the Yslas house since Isaac's death to be together.

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Kanasha Isaac

Kanasha Isaac

Gerardo Yslas’ Immokalee home has always been the place where his family congregated, so it only seemed right for them to meet there to mourn the loss of his niece.

It was only a week ago that Yslas last saw Kanasha Isaac, 16, a vibrant Immokalee High School student who often came to her uncle’s house on Madison Avenue after school while her mom finished her shift at a local bank. On Monday afternoon, Isaac’s family sat outside the home comforting her younger siblings and remembering her life.

“We’ve been right here for 40 years,” Yslas said. “When relatives leave, this is the place they know to come back to.”

Police said Isaac died Sunday after being shot late Saturday night while sitting in a car at a Fort Myers Ale House restaurant at 4400 Kernel Circle, off Colonial Boulevard. Other passengers in the car told detectives they recognized Henry Brunson, 24, as the shooter.

Isaac’s aunt, Rosa DeLeon, said Isaac was supposed to be visiting her grandparents in Fort Myers but instead was at the restaurant having dinner with her boyfriend and some other friends. Although detectives have not yet determined a motive for the shooting, DeLeon said the bullet that hit Isaac likely was intended for another passenger in the car.

Isaac’s friends brought her to Lee Memorial Hospital around 11:45 p.m., but doctors pronounced her clinically brain dead at 10:15 a.m. the next morning, according to a police report. She remained on life support for a short time Sunday so she could be used as an organ donor.

Witnesses inside the car said Brunson was in the passenger seat of a sedan that blocked them in their parking space. Brunson looked straight into their car and fired a handgun multiple times from the passenger seat of the sedan, they said. One of the bullets struck Isaac in the face, according to an arrest report.

Brunson was arrested around 7 a.m. at his home by a Fort Myers violent crimes task force. He faces a charge of second-degree murder. In Florida, only a grand jury can indict a suspect on a first-degree murder charge.

Family was a big part of Isaac’s life, said Yslas, who described himself as a fatherly figure to his niece. The two teased each other frequently — one of Isaac’s most frequent jabs at her uncle was calling him “Big Head.”

“She was a nice girl,” Yslas said. “I liked to play around with her.”

Mary Murray, principal of Immokalee High School, said word of Isaac’s death spread quickly through the community, going “rampant” on Facebook.

“Usually you’d see her and her friends at games,” Murray said. “She was more of a spectator.”

Murray said students were having difficulty understanding why their classmate had been killed, particularly under the circumstances.

“You’re at Ale House,” she said. “It’s not like you’re in a bad part of town.”

Isaac’s death is also the third loss of an Immokalee High student since December, when Coby Deleon and his girlfriend, Natalia Trejo, were found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide.

“Today, one of the issues was that kids that weren’t directly involved with this young lady were friends with the previous kids, and it reopens it,” Murray said.

Grief counselors visited Isaac’s classes Monday and will continue to be available to students and faculty.

As of late Monday, Brunson remained at a Lee County jail without bond. Reached briefly by phone Monday morning, a woman who identified herself as Mary Brunson, Henry’s mother, said her son was home, watching his son, at the time of the shooting.

She hadn’t spoken with her son but denied he was involved.

“He’s been in trouble in the past and (the police) are just targeting him,” Mary Brunson said. “Anytime anything happens, his name comes up, but he was baby-sitting his son, and I hope the police will be able to prove that.”

After a two-minute conversation, she declined to answer any more questions, saying “I’m not even supposed to talk about it.”

Records show Brunson had two gun-related run-ins with police in recent years.

Brunson had adjudication withheld on a concealed weapons charge in February 2011.

He also was arrested in January 2011 on a charge of possessing a short-barreled gun after police found a rifle with an 11-inch barrel, 35 live rounds, an empty Glock magazine, a ski mask and tactical pants and shirts in his gray Chevrolet Malibu. The charges were dropped three months later because of insufficient evidence, according to records filed with the 20th Judicial Circuit.

Staff writer Jacob Carpenter contributed to this report

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