At least 10 individuals were injured in a drive-by shooting in a neighborhood in central Florida on Monday, police said.
At a news conference on Monday, Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor said that officers were on the scene one minute after a lot of people called to say they heard gunfire in the area. About 30 miles east of Tampa is the city of Lakeland.
Taylor said that three people were dead at the scene, and witnesses told them that seven more people had been rushed in private cars to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. He said that all of the victims were adult men aged 20 to 35.
Taylor confirmed that two people are in critical condition and that the wounds of the other eight victims were not thought to be life-threatening.
The police chief said that the suspects were in a dark blue Nissan sedan with dark windows and four doors. He said that people shot from all four windows as the car went by, and that the car then sped away from the scene.
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Officials said that on Monday night, police were actively looking for the car and the shooters. Taylor said that the shooting was caught on a Ring doorbell camera. It happened one minute after a school bus dropped off kids 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.”
Taylor added: “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.”
Taylor said that the police don’t think the public has any reason to worry about their safety. He also said that rumors there was a second shooting scene were “not true.”
“Certainly we’re going to be on heightened alert for some sort of retaliatory act,” Taylor said, adding that they’ll have extra patrols Monday night.
Taylor said that the area is known as a “challenged” neighborhood that the Lakeland Police have paid a lot of attention to in recent years. But he said it was too soon to say if the shooting was related to a gang.
He said that no weapons were found at the scene, but at the hospital, a rifle was found in the car of one of the victims. He said that the police didn’t know if anyone shot back at the car or not.
Taylor said that the police were still figuring out how many shots were fired. The police found at least two kinds of rounds: a.223 rifle round and a 9 mm handgun round.
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