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COVID-19 Hits Close to Home

When we first heard about the Coronavirus it was infecting people in a Chinese city, Wuhan, a city most of us have probably never heard about. Then on January 19, 2020 the first case of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, was confirmed in Seattle, Washington. After it touched down on the West Coast it quickly spread throughout the country and now COVID-19 has breached the gates and is quite literally knocking on our doors. So it was only a matter of time before the virus hit close to home. 

BSO Deputy Sheriff Shannon Bennett Succumbs to the Disease

On April 3, 2020 it claimed a 12 year veteran of the Broward Sheriff’s office, 39 year old Deputy Sheriff, Shannon Bennett. While not a resident of Oakland Park, Bennett was frequently present at the City’s athletic games working details for the Parks and Recreation Department. Bennett was instrumental as a liaison between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement and a big supporter of LGBTQ youth. 

Men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office lined the streets, honored to salute Deputy Shannon Bennett as his body was escorted from Broward Health North to a Dania Beach funeral home. | Photos: Broward Sheriff’s Office

On March 23rd Bennett left work early because he was not feeling well. The next day, March 24th, Bennett went to the hospital and was tested for COVID-19. On March 27th, the test came back positive. He checked into a local hospital that same day and remained under the care of the staff there until his death on April 3, 2020. 

Bennett, like other victims of COVID-19, was alone at the hospital. He communicated with his friends and family by text message. He knew the virus was taking over and in one of the last text messages to his brother at approximately 2:30pm on Friday April 3rd he shared: “My life is almost over… I feel like death”. He was on his way to the ER and confessed “I can’t breathe and can’t finish my sentences”.  Bennett died that evening around 10:25pm.

Shannon Bennet and Jonathan Frey were engaged. Marriage was going to happen in December. | Photo: Jonathan Frey Facebook page

His fiancée, Jonathan Frey, to whom he was engaged to be married in December of this year wrote his last love letter to Bennett on Facebook, sharing that he sent his last text about 10 minutes before he passed.

“I hope you knew I was with you in those last moments. I’m so deeply sorry I was not able to hold your hand as you crossed over. My heart has been forever torn into two. Please take the other half with you. All my love, energy, and soul. I will miss you dearly.”

By all indications Bennett was an amazing person that will be missed by all that loved him and all those that he helped. Just before Bennett predicted his passing, he told his brother to share with others that he supported his family and that was the legacy he wanted to leave. Jon Owens, former Recreation Coordinator for the City of Oakland Park, shared with Living In Oakland Park “…that he was all about LOVE” and that is also part of the legacy that he leaves behind. 

Bennett’s death is the first COVID-19 for a BSO Officer. | Photo: Broward Sheriff’s Office

Enemy At Our Doors: Stay Safe, Stay Home

Bennett’s death is the first COVID-19 for a BSO Officer and according to BSO’s Public Information Office it is also potentially the first line-of-duty Coronavirus related death in Florida. Bennett’s passing is a painful reminder that this threat is real and it is quite literally at our doors.

As of April 5, 2020 1,828 people in Broward County have tested positive for COVID-19. Twenty-nine of those cases are in Oakland Park. Bennett’s death is one of the first ones close to home and it won’t be the last one. However, it can be one of few instead of one of many if we follow mandates and stay home.

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* is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

Desiree Avila


Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 33 years. In addition to publishing, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism.

Désirée consistently professionally develops herself and has earned several different professional designations and certifications in real estate including the PSA, e-Pro, AHWD, SRS, ABR, and SFR. She was also awarded the C2EX, Commitment to Excellence award by the National Association for Realtors (NAR). This award is given to Realtors® that distinguish themselves for their commitment to excellence in the real estate industry.

She is esteemed by her real estate colleagues and has consistently received 5 star reviews from her clients. Her philosophy about real estate is that being a Realtor® is a way of teaching and helping people, and in the process a real estate transaction may occur, that is to say her foremost priority is and has always been about helping others.

She is dedicated to her hometown of Oakland Park and works consistently on building and fostering a strong community. She is passionate about photography and loves to read books about history ; the more detail the better! In addition to English, Désirée is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Italian.

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