GULF BREEZE — A small memorial at the flag pole in front of Gulf Breeze High School reminds the community of the twin tragedies Christmas Eve.
The names of two people are written in chalk on the ground, on signs, across banners and in cards to pay tribute to their lives and grieve the community’s loss.
“We’re all pretty stunned,” said Richard Wallis whose 15-year-old daughter attends Gulf Breeze. “We don’t hear about things like that here in this sleepy little town. You never want to see that, but in your community — it’s hard to believe.”
Early Christmas Eve, William “Cody” Goodman left his home in a 2009 Chevrolet Corvette. After a high-speed chase, the 17-year-old was shot and killed by a Pensacola police officer.
Goodman was scheduled to appear in court next month after he was charged in March with the death of 66-year-old Michael M. Labelle of Sand Lake, Mich.
Goodman was speeding through a neighborhood in Gulf Breeze when he struck Labelle, who was walking with his wife.
The memorial in front of his school was lined Friday with colorful balloons saying “RIP Cody,” “You will be missed” and “In loving memory of Cody.”
Students and faculty also are mourning another death.
A pair of running shoes with the words “Rest in Peace” and “GBXC loves Coach Ade” memorialized the Christmas Eve death of beloved cross country coach Sharon Aydelott.
She was found beaten and stabbed to death in her home at 1119 Crane Cove Blvd. on Tuesday evening.
Her 17-year-old son, William Brandon Aydelott, has confessed to killing her, according to his arrest report. He is a senior at Gulf Breeze High and a baseball standout.
“Right now, this is the talk of the town,” said Brad Boven, a longtime Gulf Breeze resident as he walked the school. “Both boys seemed to be well liked. I didn’t know the families, but we’re all sad to hear the news.”
Across the Web the hashtag on Twitter, #StayStrongGB, went viral as local residents and people from across the country shared condolences and memorialized Goodman and Aydelott.
Churches held vigils and prayers were said in front of the school’s flagpole where flowers, chocolate and stuffed animals had been laid.
“This just shows that no matter where you are, you can be touched by tragedy,” Wallis said as he looked at the memorial. “You never want to hear about news like this, but it reminds us to be grateful.”
Angel McCurdy writes for the Northwest Florida Daily News.