Nearly six months after Pastor Jonathan Frazier of Roam Ministry in Orlando, Florida, was shot dead in front of nearly 100 people during an event at his church that he also operated as a banquet hall, police have yet to arrest a suspect and the family is frustrated.
“We feel broken, [we have] unanswered questions,” Frazier’s niece, Shantel White, told WFTV9. “His children and his wife and all of our loved ones … we need answers.”
Frazier, who was a 37-year-old father of seven, was the second person to die in the aftermath of the shooting at Unity Banquet Hall on June 24, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Police say at about 12:10 a.m. on the fateful day, deputies responded to reports of a shooting at the banquet hall and when they arrived on the scene, they found a man inside a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound. The man, later identified as Willie Bell Jr., 28, was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Investigators subsequently learned that three other men, all in their 20s and 30s, including Frazier, were also shot.
Despite the police releasing a video of the moment Frazier was shot in the presence of nearly 100 people at the scene, no one identified the culprits. The church remains closed, and Frazier’s family is frustrated no one has come forward to help identify the killer.
“[It] makes you feel empty,” White said. “It makes you feel hurt.”
Shortly after the shooting, Pastor Stovelleo Stovall of God is Able Church said Frazier, who was only 5 feet tall, died trying to protect a young woman from getting shot.
"A young lady was trying to show her man a good time by throwing him a surprise birthday party," Stovall told FOX 35 News. "He covered her up when the shooting went on."
Stovall said despite Frazier’s height, "His heart was so big, and he was a giant."
Many people who knew of Frazier and his ministry, like his godmother, Helen Morris Robbins, noted how he had changed his life by going from “prison to the pulpit.”
“Gun violence has hit my family again, Jonathan Frazier. I am in shock my boys are hurting. This one hurt me,” she wrote on Facebook. “My godson changed his life, preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He went from prison to the pulpit. Why? Please tell me why. I am at a loss for words right now. … Praying for his wife and kids. I love you guys to pieces.”
Frazier’s family said if he was alive and someone else was the murder victim at his church building, he would have tried his best to get them justice.
“We know that God can do everything,” White said. “But we need to help the community as well. He would have come forward to try his best to give answers to the community on what happened to their loved one.”