DESTIN — The victim in Sunday’s shooting death on Okaloosa Island is being remembered by those who knew him as hardworking, kind and compassionate.
Twenty-nine-year-old Filip Kirilov, an Uber driver who lived in Destin, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in his minivan on Okaloosa Island early Sunday. Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies have arrested 35-year-old Timothy Anderson in connection to the death. They say he used a burner phone to hail an Uber, then shot Kirilov when he arrived at his destination.
Friends described Kirilov’s death as “senseless,” and said he was simply trying to make a decent living.
“He was the local loveable Bulgarian,” said Angel Nebel, a Destin resident who said Kirilov had become like a brother and son to her and her family over the years. “He truly was just a sweet, kind man. He was very quiet but he was always smiling. He just had a very approachable and lovable energy.”
Nebel said Kirilov held down several jobs during the day, including working as a handyman for her father, Jerry Bryant, and driving for Uber at night. Kirilov worked for Uber for about 21 months, the company told the Daily News on Tuesday.
Uber released a statement to the Daily News on Wednesday expressing sadness over Kirilov's death.
“We are extremely saddened by this devastating news and our thoughts are with Filip’s family and loved ones," an Uber spokesperson said in an email. "We’re grateful the suspect has been caught and thank the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office for their diligence with this investigation.”
Nebel said Kirilov drove for Uber to make extra money to support his wife, Kalina.
“He took care of her so well,” Nebel said. “He was just trying to support his wife, save money and work hard. He had values. It’s so hard to find good workers these days. He would work day and night, and take care of his wife in between.”
Jerry Bryant said he met Kirilov four or five years ago when he hired him to mow his yard and clean his pool. He was impressed with Kirilov’s work ethic, Bryant said, and quickly came to see him as an “adopted son.”
“I was his American dad,” Bryant said. “He was probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. If you can imagine in your mind the nicest kid in the world, the person you would want to be your kid, that’s him. It was always, ‘yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am.’ You never saw him act mad or anything.”
Kirilov also worked at the Donut Hole in Destin for about two years, the restaurant confirmed Wednesday. Workers said they were devastated to learn of Kirilov’s death.
“He was a bus boy and helped out the kitchen staff, and when he got off he would go do Uber,” Donut Hole employee Monique Saeung said. “He was a really nice guy. Everybody here is upset.”
Nebel said she hopes people will be inspired by Kirilov’s life instead of being fixated on his death.
She said Kirilov was a “shining light” and deserves to be remembered as a caring, loving husband and attentive friend.
“Through all of this, I hope that we can remember to love one another,” she said. “I see some people putting hurtful things on social media, but we can only hope to give life through death. I know that he was a blessing to all of us, and I hope that this story can be a blessing ... and make some changes.”