We all talk about coming home and giving back to our community, that’s exactly what 24-year-old Haitian-American Gino Nicolas did after graduating from Florida State University.
Gino returned to Parramore in hopes of helping other kids succeed and stay out of trouble. He found a home leading the organization My Brother’s Keeper, which helps Orlando’s youths by providing mentoring, tutoring and scholarships. Nicolas would repeat to people a similar mantra: “I am Parramore.”
On Saturday, Nicolas was gunned down during a drive-by shooting at the Landings at Carver Park apartment complex in Parramore and later died of his injuries.
According to Orlando Weekly, Nicolas, was killed a week ago at the Landings at Carver Park apartment complex in Parramore in a drive-by shooting. The same shooting killed Tanya Skeen, 46, who was putting away groceries in her apartment when she was hit by a stray bullet, and injured four other men, according to the Orlando Police Department. The men were standing in front of the apartments when a vehicle drove by and the people inside started shooting with multiple handguns.
“At this time, the intended target of the shooting is unknown,” OPD says. “There is no verified suspect vehicle description and no identified suspects at this time.”
Nicolas family, friends and the community he worked with are grieving. Jurde Volcy says his cousin grew up in a typical Haitian home where his parents were strict and didn’t let him leave the house unless he was going to the Parramore Kidz Zone or to play basketball.
When he became the Orlando coordinator of My Brother’s Keeper, a program that targets opportunity gaps faced by young men of color, he would use his skills on the court for impromptu games with youth who were hanging out at the John H. Jackson Community Center. Volcy says Nicolas’ parents didn’t understand the scale of what he was doing until after his death.
They found photos of him with Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Michelle Obama, and discovered his plans to start a social media campaign to keep the kids connected to the program. Recently, he organized a trip to the Kennedy Space Center for a group of kids and was contacting guidance counselors to find at-risk youth.
“They cut my boy short, far short of where he was trying to go,” Volcy says. “We lost somebody fighting for change, who didn’t leave where they were from, who changed himself so he could change his neighborhood. We’re proud, but we’d rather have Gino than be proud at this point.”
Crimeline is offering $5,000 for tips in the case. Anyone with information can anonymously call 800-423-8477 or the Orlando Police Department 321-235-5300.
Nicolas’ funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Kingdom Church on Nowell Street.