LIVE UPDATES: Ten people shot in midtown Lakeland, a few blocks north of downtown, police say
Ten people were shot in the area just north of Bartow Road in midtown Lakeland late Monday afternoon, Lakeland police said.
The shooting took place at 3:43 p.m. near Iowa Avenue and Plum Street, about a block east of Massachusetts Avenue and some 400 yards south of Memorial Boulevard.
Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor told reporters at a 7 p.m. news conference that officers arrived on the scene one minute after a flurry of calls reporting gunfire in the neighborhood. The area is barely a quarter mile to the north of the Lakeland police headquarters.
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Taylor said when police arrived they found three victims on the scene, and witnesses told them eight more victims had been rushed to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center via private cars. He said all the victims were adult males between the ages of 20 and 35. Two were in critical condition, he said. One was shot in the abdomen, the other in the area of the jaw.
Besides the two in critical condition, the other eight suffered non-life-threatening injuries, the chief said.
Taylor said the victims were lining Iowa Avenue. The suspects were riding in a dark blue, four-door Nissan sedan with dark tinted windows. As the car rolled by, he said, shooters fired from all four windows. Then the car sped off to the north and fled east on Memorial Boulevard. A Ring doorbell camera captured the shooting, he said, which occurred one minute after a school bus dropped children off in front of a house.
"We have reason to believe this was a targeted event, that it was not a random act," Taylor said. "We did locate a quantity of marijuana at the scene, which would indicate that, obviously, there were some narcotics sales or sales of marijuana going on there at the time. Whether that's significant or related to this, that's unknown right now.
"I've been here 34 years and I can tell you I have never worked an event where this many people were shot at one time, ever," he said.
Taylor said LPD does not think there's reason for the public to be worried for their safety. And he said rumors that there was a second shooting scene were "incorrect."
"Certainly we're going to be on heightened alert for some sort of retaliatory act," Taylor said, adding that they'll have extra patrols out tonight.
Taylor said the area has been known as a "challenged" neighborhood that the LPD has paid a lot of attention to in recent years. But he said it's too early to say whether the shooting was gang related.
He said no weapons were found at the scene, but a rifle was found in the car of one of the victims at the hospital. He said the police didn't know whether anyone fired back at the car.
Shortly after 6 p.m., police tape surrounded a vacant lot at the corner of Plum and Iowa and blocked Iowa Avenue from Plum Street on the south to the gated Laurel Oaks apartment complex about 100 yards to the north. Three police vehicles blocked the southern end of the blocked street and a half dozen more lined Iowa Avenue to the north.
Witness recount: 10 people shot in Lakeland
Unidentified man shares his account of what happened when 10 people were shot near downtown Lakeland.
Andy Kuppers, The Ledger
On the blocked off portion of the street, police investigators scanned the ground under a portable spotlight and marked what appeared to be shell casings in the street.