Lakeland Town Center, formerly known as Searstown, is anchored by Save-A-Lot and the Lakeland Furniture Outlet. | Cindy Glover, LkldNow

Gunshots rang out overnight in the parking lot of the Lakeland Town Center shopping center following a dance party/concert at the Empire Event Center at 935 E. Memorial Blvd.

Lakeland Police spokeswoman Robin Tillett said the shooting happened around 2:20 a.m. Officers were already monitoring the area because  “a local business was closing after a concert had ended and a large crowd had developed outside,” she said.

The shooting occurred at the northern end of the plaza near the Subway restaurant and Tips & Toes nail salon.

“A 27-year-old male was found lying on the ground in the parking lot with gunshot wounds and was transported to a local hospital for treatment,” Tillett said. “At the last update, the victim was able to speak with emergency responders providing care and was in stable condition.”

Tillett said no arrests have been made but “it does not appear to be a random act.” The suspect is believed to have fled the scene in a vehicle. 

The shopping plaza – anchored by Save-A-Lot and the Lakeland Furniture Outlet – recently underwent a renovation with new signage and paint, but it has several vacant units and has struggled to find tenants.

The Empire Event Center — in a space that has had many different names over the years including the Black Rozay Lounge, El Noa Noa Discotheque, Club Rumors, OK Corral Nightclub, La Patrona Night Club and Ritmo Nights Lakeland — is operated by Vallejo Entertainment LLC.

The Memorial Boulevard plaza was once known as Searstown and was in the news three months ago for the restoration of a mosaic mural commissioned by Publix founder George Jenkins in the 1960s. 

The shooting happened near a mosaic mural that was recently restored. | Cindy Glover, LkldNow

Tillett said detectives are “continuing to follow up on investigative leads.” Several of the stores in the plaza have security cameras.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Russ Hurley at (863) 834-8973 or  

SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips:


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Cindy Glover moved to Lakeland in 2021 after spending two decades in South Florida. Her career has included journalism, education, digital marketing and public relations. She was a crime reporter, City Hall reporter and chief political writer for newspapers including the Albuquerque Journal and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. She spent a year as a community engagement coordinator for the City of Lakeland before joining LkldNow. Reach her at or 561-212-3429.

Leave a comment

Your Thoughts On This? (Comments are moderated; first and last name are required.)