Deltona, FL – The memory of a slain teen will be honored by a billboard and a scholarship as his family continues to seek justice for his death.
“No more tears. No more lives lost. Put the guns down,” is what a new billboard on I-4 says alongside a picture of Xyrus Zelayaa 16-year-old Deltona teen who lost his life after he was shot outside of a house party in October 2021. Xyrus’ mother, Erica, spoke to News Daytona Beach about the outpouring of love and support her family received in the wake of his death, saying she was deeply moved.
Even the billboard itself was a show of support for the family. According to Erica, the billboard was donated to the family by Outfront Media, who is allowing the family to keep the message up for free until April. Erica hopes the billboard can serve as a memory for her son as the family continues to recover from his death.
“It was one of their gifts to us,” said Erica. “When I spoke to them they were deeply saddened and they went ahead and did us a favor.”
The billboard, according to Erica, also serves as a way to raise awareness to gun violence.
“No parents should go through what we have been dealing with,” said Erica.
On the side, the family is also working towards establishing the Xyrus Zelaya Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is a one-time $500 merit and athletic based scholarship that will be awarded to two seniors from Deltona who are survivors of gun violence or who have lost a family member or friend to gun violence.
Since Xyrus’ death, Erica says her family’s life hasn’t gotten much easier. While life moves on, there’s still a rather large hole in their lives. In an interview with News Daytona Beach, Erica talked about some of Xyrus’ passions and discussed how hard he worked in his life.
“Seeing my son work so hard and then have this happen to him. There’s no way I can let anything go,” said Erica. “He always wanted his dad, myself, and his brothers to be happy.”
Two months after his passing, authorities caught up with the man accused of killing Xyrus, Markland Roberts. At this point in the case, Roberts remains charged with manslaughter with a criminal and attempted manslaughter. He was last in court on January 11 with a tentative trial start date of February 7, but that hearing was continued. He’s due back in court on March 15, with a tentative trial date of April 4.