Lakeland police have recovered a blue Nissan sedan that they believe was used in a shooting Monday afternoon that left at least 11 men wounded in the Parker Street neighborhood, Police Chief Sam Taylor revealed in a press briefing this morning.
“We had an officer drive by and noticed it parked in a neighborhood” in west Lakeland, Taylor said, noting he was choosing his words carefully. He did not name the neighborhood.
No suspects are in custody, but Taylor said detectives have identified more than one suspect who he described as living outside of Lakeland but within Polk County. “We have some very promising leads and very promising information,” Taylor said. “We are actively pursuing those leads right now.”
There were at least four men in the Nissan and police believe at least two of them fired weapons in the incident along North Iowa Avenue a little south of Memorial Boulevard, Taylor said today. Previously, it was believed that all four men had fired.
The number of known victims increased to 11 when a man walked into Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with minor injuries, Taylor said at the 11 a.m. briefing. All of the victims were men ages 20 to 35, according to police.
Nine of the 11 victims received minor injuries and are expected to be released from the hospital today, Taylor said. All have been interviewed by detectives, he said.
One of the victims was hit in the abdomen and received surgery at Lakeland Regional on Monday, Taylor said. Another victim was struck in the jaw and was transported to Tampa General Hospital, he said. Neither of the men with serious injuries have spoken with detectives yet, he said.
The incident happened at 3:43 p.m. Monday, when a Nissan with a temporary paper tag slowed down as it traveled north on Iowa Avenue, the tinted windows rolled down, and masked men fired weapons from the still-moving vehicle toward both sides of the street.
Police believe that the attack was a “targeted event” and that nobody else is endangered, Taylor said in his initial press briefing on Monday evening: “We don’t we don’t believe there’s any reason that the public would need to be concerned right now. We think that the individuals in a car shot at who they wanted to shoot. It was an intentional act. It certainly wasn’t a random just to drive-by shooting.”
Marijuana prepared for sale was found at the scene, he said today.
Video – Chief Taylor’s Monday press briefing:
Taylor said men were sitting or standing in yards or on porches of homes on both sides of North Iowa Avenue when the gunfire began. He said some of the men shot had minor injuries from ricocheting bullets.
Police today released video from a neighbor’s home-security camera. The gunshots can be heard, followed by cries for help from victims. A portion of the video has been blurred. Be warned that some will find the sounds disturbing:
Taylor said when the shooting was over, the Nissan accelerated north on Iowa Avenue and turned right onto Memorial Boulevard.
Taylor said on Monday that police had found the spent shell casings from a .223 rifle and a nine-millimeter handgun.
Taylor called the neighborhood one that is challenged, with a number of rental properties, old, unkempt homes and apartments, and aging duplexes. “It’s an area that we’ve paid quite a quite a lot of attention to over the past few years,” Taylor said. “It’s a tough neighborhood.”
The chief thanked the many people who called the Police Department with tips about the shootings, including many who live in the neighborhood where the incident took place.
“There are a lot of good people that live in a neighborhood,” he said this morning. “Certainly it’s a challenged area. We are constantly with our neighborhood liaison folks … working with people in that area to improve their lives and we can get you a list of everything that we’ve done as far as you know, we’ve done quite a few search warrants and we’ve tried to try to remove the criminal element out of that neighborhood to the extent that we can but we’ve worked with that neighborhood for many, many, many years to try and help improve it.”
Miguel Joseph, a neighborhood resident, told Orlando’s WKMG-TV that drug dealing is common on the lot where some of the men were shot. He said he believes they live elsewehre. “That’s all they do, every day,” Joseph said of the drug selling. “I hope they don’t come here anymore.”
Multiple federal law enforcement agencies have offered assistance, and LPD is looking forward to their help expediting lab processing of evidence found in the car, Taylor said.
Lakeland police, in connection with Heartland Crime Stoppers Florida, are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the identification and arrest of the suspects involved.
To remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers Florida:
- Call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477)
- From your cell phone, dial **TIPS
- Visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip”
- Download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.
Tipsters will always remain anonymous when sending a tip through Crime Stoppers.
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