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.
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 Russell.email@example.com.
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