At a wake in a small church here and at a vigil on the
University of Miami campus where the athlete's skills made him an
idol, Taylor was remembered by those who knew him since childhood
and those who felt like they did.
Taylor's family gathered alone around his casket and left before
the doors of Second Baptist Church opened to a line of hundreds of
people stretching a block long. They departed in black limousines,
SUVs and two buses.
Mourners filed through the church, pausing at the athlete's open
casket, where he lay in a dark suit and white shirt with his arms
by his side. Some made the sign of the cross, some sobbed, some
walked silently as the choir sang. A police officer stood guard
One man erected a display in the parking lot in the athlete's
honor with dozens of balloons, including those representing his
jersey numbers in high school, college and professionally.
"I just wanted to do something," said James Lovett of Fort
Lauderdale, who said he met Taylor when he was displaced from his
home after Hurricane Andrew. "I just loved the kid, truly loved
Dozens of flower arrangements filled the church, including an
orange and green U symbolizing the University of Miami and one in
the shape of a badge for the Florida City Police, where Taylor's
father is chief.
People came for many reasons. Some had met Taylor, many had not.
Dolores Brown mourned a man she called a son. Jeremiah
Wedderburn spoke of Taylor's passion. And Josh Persad, a freshman
at Miramar High School, came wearing a Taylor jersey.
"He's like my hero," Persad whispered.
Just southwest of here in Coral Gables, about 2,000 people
gathered outside BankUnited Center at UM where Taylor's life was
remembered in a somber ceremony. His No. 26 jersey from the school
was framed, along with a photo of him in his Hurricanes uniform.
"Sean is with God now," his father, Pedro Taylor, said.
The mass of people held white candles toward the sky as a
university band performed the alma mater. Some said they would
emulate him, others said they would always remember him.
The remembrances Sunday came only hours after a fourth man
charged in the shooting death of the 24-year-old Taylor appeared
briefly in court and, like his co-defendants, was denied bond.
Jason Mitchell, 19, appeared via videoconference in a Fort Myers
courtroom, about 100 miles from here. Dressed in an orange
jumpsuit, he responded quietly when asked if he understood the
charges. "He looks like he's in shock," said Sawyer Smith, one of
Three others -- Eric Rivera, 17; Charles Wardlow, 18; and Venjah
Hunte, 20 -- made their first court appearance Saturday.
All four have been charged with unpremeditated murder, home
invasion with a firearm or another deadly weapon and armed
burglary. They will be transported to Miami, though authorities
haven't said when.
Probable cause affidavits for Mitchell and Rivera obtained by
the Associated Press said the two confessed to participating in
armed burglary. According to the reports, Mitchell and Rivera
admitted entering the home and said someone had a gun and shot
Taylor, but they didn't identify who. Police and attorneys also
have said some of the young men confessed, though they wouldn't
Taylor died Tuesday, one day after being shot at his home in an
affluent Miami suburb. Police said the suspects were looking for a
simple burglary, but it turned bloody when they were startled to
find Taylor home.
The suspects all have prior arrests, according to police,
including drug, theft and gun charges, though friends and family
have defended them.
Police remain tightlipped about how the suspects wound up at
Taylor's home. But his former attorney Richard Sharpstein said
Taylor's sister was dating a relative of Wardlow and that one or
more people tied to the suspects may have attended her 21st
birthday party at the athlete's home.
Miami-Dade police wouldn't confirm any of the possible links.
Early Monday, Taylor and his longtime girlfriend, Jackie Garcia,
were awakened by loud noises at his home and within moments he was
shot. Neither the couple's 18-month-old daughter, also named
Jackie, nor Garcia were injured, but the bullet hit the femoral
artery in Taylor's leg, causing significant blood loss.
He never regained consciousness and died early Tuesday.
Authorities haven't said whether they've linked the suspects to
a break-in at Taylor's home eight days before the shooting. In that
incident, someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers
and left a kitchen knife on a bed.
Sharpstein said Taylor's family was grateful for fast police
work in the case, but that the arrests gave little comfort. Their
mourning was set to continue Monday with a massive funeral at a
Florida International University arena.