The scene of Lakeland's laregest mass shooting on Iowa Avenue, Jan. 30, 2023. | Kimberly C. Moore, LkldNow

It  had already been a long day when I got a call from Kimberly Moore, LkldNow’s hard-working reporter, at 6:32 p.m. on Monday.

Had I heard that nine people had been shot? she asked. “No, where?” I responded, expecting her to tell me about some other city or state.

Midtown, she said. Around Iowa Avenue and Plum Street. 

What???? I remembered seeing an email a little earlier from the Lakeland Police Department, so I quickly opened it. (I had not paid much attention when it first came because my email program misclassified it as a newsletter.)

The chief is briefing the media at 7 at the police station, I told Kimberly. She had less than half an hour to make it.

I’ll throw on something nice and go cover it, she said.

Lakeland was about to get the kind of national attention it never wants. At least 11 people — not nine — were wounded when a car slowed down on Iowa Avenue a little south of Memorial Boulevard and bullets rained out from both sides. Fortunately, nobody was killed. Two of the victims suffered serious injuries.

Even before Kimberly worked for LkldNow, we featured her in an article about a book she authored.

Kimberly texted me a photo from the police chief’s briefing and then sent more pictures when she went to the crime scene after the briefing. I put together an early version of the story based on listening to the chief’s briefing, and included Kimberly’s photos and a map.

Once Kimberly got home, she wrote a masterful narrative of what we knew so far

Since then, the continuing story of the shootings in Midtown has dominated the news in Lakeland. Kimberly really shines when news breaks, and Monday night was no exception.

But she did an equally outstanding job on Tuesday when she followed up by talking with multiple sources about the Parker Street neighborhood where the shootings occurred and the decades-long effort by the city government and nonprofit agencies to turn the area around. 

No doubt we’ll be doing a lot more reporting about the shootings, the search for the suspects and efforts to improve public safety. I’m glad we have Kimberly on our team doing the reporting,

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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