This article was published in The Orlando Sentinel on June 27, 2016.
By Gal Tziperman Lotan
It's June 16, four days after the Pulse nightclub massacre, and 16-year-old Teryus Garmon is standing in an Orange County driveway with a friend.
A dark-colored car full of people passes by. Someone inside pulls a gun and shoots, killing Teryus and his friend, 18-year-old Lee Nelson.
Excluding the 49 people killed at Pulse, they were Orange County's 60th and 61st homicide victims in a tally that now numbers 64, putting the county on a pace to equal or surpass the record of 123 homicides in 2008. If the Pulse victims are included, the 2016 homicide number now stands at 113 — 100 of whom died from gunfire.
Teryus' mother, Catresia Delane, said her friends and neighbors have been supportive of her family, sending their love and coming out for a candlelight vigil. But her son's death underscores the area's violence, even without the June 12 mass shooting.
"I understand why the Pulse thing is under so much news coverage because it was such a large event, you know, with so many people," Delane said. "But there's so much going on in Orlando, you can't keep up with everything anyway. I mean, every time you turn on the news there's two or three shootings."
The homicide total for this year includes unincorporated Orange County, the city of Orlando and smaller municipalities. Fifty-one of the non-Pulse victims were killed with guns, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis of law-enforcement and medical-examiner records.
In comparison, Hillsborough County, which has a population slightly larger than Orange County's, has seen 41 homicides, 31 of them gun-related. Miami-Dade County, with roughly twice as many residents, has had 103 homicides, 79 of them involving guns.
"This is a very unique situation, the Pulse," said Orlando Commissioner Samuel Ings. "…It's difficult to compare because not everyone, like this particular suspect, is just going out to do harm inside of the club and hold people hostage. This is just pure hate and terror that he was causing in the name of his group that he pledged his allegiance to."
The number of non-Pulse homicides within Orlando city limits through Monday has more than doubled compared with the same period in 2015, Ings pointed out, from nine to 19.
"It's so hard to try to figure out how to stop events like this," he said.
Teryus' mother came to his viewing Friday wearing a white T-shirt with his photo printed on it. She knew she had to be there for one of her daughters, who collapsed in tears as she approached the room where Teryus lay in an open casket.
Teryus, the middle child in a family of five siblings, had just finished his freshman year at Evans High School and was excited to no longer be one of the younger kids in school, his mother said.
He liked playing football and the video game Call of Duty, she said. He liked making everyone in the room laugh. He liked playfully calling his mother, asking if she'd cooked dinner that night.
"I don't want to hear the stereotypes of him being another little thug kid hanging out in the streets, because that wasn't him," Delane said. "…He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's it. The neighborhood where everything happened at — their grandmother's lived in that neighborhood for 15 years. So they know the kids in the neighborhood and everything. It's just, I don't know. I just don't know how that happened."
Deputies have not made any arrests in the killings of Teryus and Nelson. While they wait for updates, his family members are trying to adjust to life without him.
"Certain things, I guess it takes a while to get used to," Delane said. "Not calling their name or including them in whatever you've got going on."