Deltona community to gather, pray for justice after teen shot, killed

Deputies have not released info on any possible suspects, motive

DELTONA, Fla. – The family of a teenager who was shot and killed over the weekend in Deltona is holding a candle lighting Thursday night and said they will pray for answers and for justice against whoever killed 16-year old Xyrus Zelaya.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said Friday it has identified a person of interest in the deadly shooting, but no other information is available.

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“I think it was almost a wrong place, wrong time,” Zelaya’s cousin Malakai Joseph said.

Joseph said his cousin had a wide reach in the Deltona community, even at just 16 years old.

“I’ve had a ton of people ask me how my family is doing and it’s like we’re not doing good, but we’re doing as good as we can because it’s not an easy situation to swallow,” he said.

Volusia County deputies said Zelaya was one of two teenagers shot outside of what they think was a house party early Sunday morning. They said both teens were dropped off by people at different hospitals. Zelaya died soon after. A 17-year-old, who was also wounded, is recovering.

Deputies haven’t said who they believe fired the gun or if they have a suspect.

“We want justice and we don’t want them to just get another slap on the wrist. I feel like that’s something that’s just been happening for years and years and that just must change,” Joseph said.

Zelaya went to Deltona High School where he played football and soccer.

“I loved being around him. He was a person with an infectious smile and just an uplifting person,” Jeff Smothers, Zelaya’s football coach, said

Joseph hopes people will share memories at the candle lighting.

“We kind of just want to bring the community together — realistically. Just to make it bigger than just what happened to him because it’s not just another crime in Deltona,” he said.

The candle lighting is being held at Dewey Booster Park at 7 p.m. Those in attendance are asked to wear blue, black, or white and bring a candle. Friends of the family have also set up a GoFundMe.

About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.