Jade Fox Lounge
Trash on the ground including yellow event wristbands were the only evidence early Saturday of the chaos at the Highlands Plaza shopping center a few hours earlier. | Cindy Glover, LkldNow

One person is dead and another is in critical condition after a shooting early Saturday morning at the Jade Fox Lounge at 3010 Lakeland Highlands Rd.

Lakeland Police spokeswoman Stephanie Kerr said a 23-year-old female suspect is in custody in connection with the 1:51 a.m. shooting.

The 3,500-square-foot lounge is in the Highlands Plaza shopping center, anchored by Winn-Dixie.

There was a party Friday night hosted by former FSU standout and NBA player Dwayne Bacon, with special guest Nique and discounted Rey Supremo tequila shots. Videos posted to Facebook by the venue — that apparently were later removed — showed it was a heavily attended event with guests wearing all-white.

The shooting happened as the party was ending. The lounge owner, Jian Zhang, said city ordinances require businesses that serve alcohol to close by 2 a.m., so the staff turned on the lights at 1:40 a.m. and started to encourage people to leave. However, around that time, a group tried to enter. Apparently a fight broke out when they were denied admission.

Police described the victims as a 25-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman, but they are not releasing their names, citing Marsy’s Law. Unconfirmed reports suggest the victim who died was Bacon’s younger brother, Raheem Bacon, a Lakeland rapper known professionally as 350Heem.

Jamilah T. Johnson | Lakeland Police Department | Polk County Sheriff's Office

Kerr said two police officers working in an off-duty capacity at the lounge were already on the scene. The 25-year-old shooting victim was taken by personal vehicle to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, she said. The female victim was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Jamilah Johnson, 23, was taken into custody and a firearm was recovered at the scene, Kerr said. So far, Johnson has been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Detectives continue investigating and are trying to determine if others were involved in the shooting.

Zhang said there is surveillance video footage of the event that he will deliver to LPD today.

Several witnesses posted on social media. One said, “just seen a (person) get shot dead in front of police at Jade fox … WOW.”

Others shared videos of more than a dozen police cars outside Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

It is the second such incident in two months in Lakeland. A 27-year-old man survived a shooting at Lakeland Town Center at 2:20 a.m. on May 25 after a concert at a party venue in the shopping plaza formerly known as Searstown.

The Jade Fox Lounge opened in December 2018. It’s founder, Zhang, is a 2006 graduate of Lakeland Senior High School who came to the U.S. from China at the age of 7.

In a 2019 interview with Business Observer he said he wanted to create an upscale, high-energy dance club with DJs and a full liquor bar so Lakelanders could “stop going to Orlando or Tampa” for nightlife.

Zhang said he was shocked and that, in the five years he has owned the lounge, there had been the occasional rowdy patron, but nothing like the violence overnight. The Jade Fox is only open two nights a week for four hours per night.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have information to contact Detective Neal Robertson at neal.roberston@lakelandgov.net.

In addition, people who wish to remain anonymous can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226 TIPS (8477) or from a cell phone at **TIPS. Crime Stoppers can also be contacted online at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com (click on “Submit A Tip”) or via the P3tips smartphone app. Tipsters through Crime Stoppers are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest.

The Highlands Plaza shopping center on Lakeland Highlands Rd. is anchored by Winn-Dixie. | Cindy Glover, LkldNow
Yellow wristbands littered the parking lot outside the lounge. | Cindy Glover, LkldNow
The event Friday night was touted as an “All-White Celebrity Party”
A sign on the door of the Jade Fox Lounge says “no firearms.” | Cindy Glover, LkldNow

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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 worked for the Albuquerque Journal and South Florida Sun-Sentinel and spent a year as a community engagement coordinator for the City of Lakeland before joining LkldNow.

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