LAKELAND, Fla. — At least 10 people were injured Monday during a drive-by shooting in a central Florida neighborhood, authorities said.
During a Monday news conference, Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor said that officers arrived on the scene one minute after a flurry of calls reporting gunfire in the neighborhood. Lakeland is located about 30 miles east of Tampa
According to Taylor, police found three victims on the scene, and witnesses told them seven 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 people are in critical condition, while the wounds of the other eight victims weren’t considered life-threatening, Taylor confirmed.
According to the police chief, 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 and the car later sped away from the scene.
Officers were actively searching for the vehicle and the shooters Monday night, officials said. A Ring doorbell camera captured the shooting, Taylor said, which occurred one minute after a school bus dropped children off in front of a house.
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“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 the police department doesn’t think there’s a 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 Monday night.
Taylor said the area has been known as a “challenged” neighborhood that the Lakeland Police 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.
Taylor said police were still trying to determine how many rounds were fired. Authorities identified at least two types of rounds, a .223 rifle round and a 9 mm handgun round.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Story Credit: usatoday.com