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Number of shooting victims rises to 11 as Lakeland police say they found the suspects' car

The Ledger 1/31/2023 Sara-Megan Walsh, The Ledger
Lakeland police found this vehicle in west Lakeland early Tuesday and have a "high level of confidence" it's the car used in Monday's drive-by shooting that wounded 11 people. © Lakeland Police Department Lakeland police found this vehicle in west Lakeland early Tuesday and have a "high level of confidence" it's the car used in Monday's drive-by shooting that wounded 11 people.

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A day after 11 people were shot in the area just east of Massachusetts Avenue in midtown Lakeland, the city’s police Chief Sammy Taylor provided several updates to the public about the incident this morning, including updating the number of injured from 10 to 11.

The shooting, which took place at 3:43 p.m. near Iowa Avenue and Plum Street, ended with three victims found on the scene with witnesses telling police seven more had been rushed to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center via private cars. Another victim arrived at the hospital later, Taylor said.

All the victims were adult males between the ages of 20 and 35. Two remained in critical condition on Tuesday. Taylor said one underwent surgery Monday night and the other was flown to Tampa General Hospital for treatment.

Taylor said all of the victims except the two in critical condition were expected to be released from the hospital today.

Drive-by shooting:Ten people shot in 'targeted attack' in midtown Lakeland, a little north of downtown

What we know Tuesday:Lakeland shooting victims now up to 11 people: What we know

The others suffered non-life-threatening injuries, the chief said.

As promised Monday, Lakeland police released a Ring doorbell security video from a neighboring home on Tuesday that showed parts of the shooting. The main part was redacted.

Taylor said the victims were lining Iowa Avenue, and the suspects, who appeared to be wearing masks or face coverings, were riding in a dark blue, four-door Nissan sedan with dark tinted windows.

As the car rolled by, the chief said shooters fired from all four windows. Then the car, with a paper temporary tag, sped off to the north and fled east on Memorial Boulevard. A Ring doorbell camera captured the shooting, he said, and also captured the bus dropping off children a minute before the chaos.

Taylor said at least four shooters were in the vehicle, with at least two shooting. He said a car was found in a West Lakeland neighborhood this morning, and police "have a high level of confidence" that it's the car used in the attack.

Taylor wouldn't offer more details on the location of the car, only saying an officer drove by and spotted it.

But Peterson Jean of P&B Towing in Lakeland said he was contacted by a man he does work for off of Bird Street in west Lakeland on Monday night, asking him to come pick a car up. He said he declined because it was too late. But the acquaintance called again at 6:30 a.m. and asked to have the car towed to an auto-body shop on U.S. 92. When Jean showed up and loaded the car on this truck about 9 a.m., he said a man was video recording his truck and the car.

Jean said the man told him he was working with the city on an investigation. That's when Jean learned the car might be connected to the shooting the day before, he said, and he towed it to Lakeland police headquarters.

Jean, who was hanging around the front of the police station after Tuesday's press conference, said he was waiting to get his phone back. He said investigators were going through it for the texts and phone calls he received about the car.

In the news conference, the chief said Lakeland police received a large number of tips, many of which he said were promising.

“We do have suspects," Taylor said. "We have people we’re very interested in. We don’t have our hands on them.”

"We have reason to believe this was a targeted event, that it was not a random act," Taylor said Monday. "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.”

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Taylor said no weapons were found at the scene, but weapons were found in the cars of some of the victims who were taken to the hospital.

The chief said several agencies had reached out to LPD to offer assistance last night, including the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Attorney, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Homeland Security. He said Lakeland would take them up on some of their help, "particularly as it comes to the lab processing and the processing of some of the evidence we believe to be in the vehicle."

The chief again address the "challenged" neighborhood, saying there are a lot of good people in the area, and LPD has tried to "remove the criminal element" as much as possible.

"We're not there 24 hours a day. I don't have an officer that's posted there at all hours of the day," Taylor said. "We do the best we can with what we have, and we certainly have put quite a few people in jail from that area ... trying to remove the criminal element. But we're not there all the time. About as quick as we leave ... they go back to selling their wares."

Reward offered for information related to Lakeland shooting

Late Monday night, the LPD said offered of up to $5,000 to anyone with information that leads to the identification and arrest of the suspects. Taylor said Tuesday the reward money is still available.

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
  • Or visit the website and click on "Submit A Tip,"
  • Or download the free "P3tips" app on your smartphone or tablet.

Tipsters will always remain anonymous when sending a tip through Crime Stoppers.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Number of shooting victims rises to 11 as Lakeland police say they found the suspects' car

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