Suspects sought after Florida drive-by shooting wounds 11

Jan 30, 2023, 5:47 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2023, 12:35 pm

Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor gestures as he speaks during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Lakeland, Fla. Police say several people were shot and wounded during a drive-by shooting in a central Florida neighborhood. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — The four-door sedan pulled up near an intersection in a central Florida city where people were milling about, the tinted windows came down and people from inside the vehicle started shooting in all directions, wounding 11 men, including two critically, police officials said.

Only a minute earlier, a school bus had dropped off children in the Lakeland neighborhood on Monday afternoon.

“It sounded like one of those huge rolls of firecrackers tied up to each other,” said neighborhood resident Tina Smith, who lives 50 feet (15 meters) from the lot where the shootings took place. “But you knew it wasn’t firecrackers.”

Authorities on Tuesday offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects involved in the shooting in Lakeland, a city of 112,000 residents located about halfway between Tampa and Orlando.

One of the critically-injured men was shot in the stomach, and the other was shot in the jaw. The others had non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities said Monday night that there were 10 shooting victims but updated that figure to 11 on Tuesday, adding that one of the injured men later had walked into a hospital with minor injuries.

The victims were males between the ages of 20 and 35, said Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor at a news conference.

After the shootings, the vehicle peeled off. Detectives believed they found it Tuesday morning in a Lakeland neighborhood and planned to run lab tests on it to verify it was the vehicle involved in the shootings.

“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. “We consider ourselves to be a small town … and when stuff like this happens, it hits home, for me, at least.”

Taylor said investigators believe the shooting was a targeted attack and wasn’t random. Some of the shooting victims were cooperating but others weren’t, detectives said.

Police said marijuana packaged for sale was found at the scene of the shooting, and investigators believe drug sales were taking place. While the lot was known for drug dealing and other street crime, nothing had ever taken place on the magnitude of the shootings, Smith said.

“It’s definitely unexpected,” Smith said. “But I still feel safe. It wasn’t like the whole block was sprayed. They were coming with names on the bullets, obviously.”

Taylor described the neighborhood of cinder block and wood frame bungalows with small yards as “challenged,” a place where a lot of renters reside, and he said the police had focused a lot of attention on the area in recent years. Many of the homes have bars on the windows, and on Tuesday multiple bullet holes could be seen in the window of a nearby apartment building near the empty lot where the shootings took place.

Miguel Joseph, a neighborhood resident, said drug dealing was common at the lot, and he believed the suspects came from outside the neighborhood.

“That’s all they do, every day,” Joseph said of the drug selling. “I hope they don’t come here anymore.”

The police chief said officers had tried to remove “the criminal element” from the neighborhood, and they had put “quite a few people in jail from that neighborhood,” but often former criminals return to dealing drugs when they get out of jail.

“It’s a tough neighborhood and there are some challenges,” Taylor said. “We’ve put a lot of resources and manpower in trying to fix that.”


Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando, Florida contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Evelyn Knapp, a supporter of former President Donald, waves to passersby outside of Trump's Mar-a-L...
Associated Press

Trump legal woes force another moment of choosing for GOP

From the moment he rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his first presidential campaign, a searing question has hung over the Republican Party: Is this the moment to break from Donald Trump?
1 day ago
FILE - The Silicon Valley Bank logo is seen at an open branch in Pasadena, Calif., on March 13, 202...
Associated Press

Army of lobbyists helped water down banking regulations

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Red-state Democrats facing grim reelection prospects would join forces with Republicans to slash bank regulations — demonstrating a willingness to work with President Donald Trump while bucking many in their party.
1 day ago
FILE - This Sept. 2015, photo provided by NOAA Fisheries shows an aerial view of adult female South...
Associated Press

Researchers: Inbreeding a big problem for endangered orcas

People have taken many steps in recent decades to help the Pacific Northwest's endangered killer whales, which have long suffered from starvation, pollution and the legacy of having many of their number captured for display in marine parks.
2 days ago
FILE - Hiring signs are displayed at a grocery store in Arlington Heights, Ill., Jan. 13, 2023. Emp...
Associated Press

Pay transparency is spreading. Here’s what you need to know

U.S. employers are increasingly posting salary ranges for job openings, even in states where it’s not required by law, according to analysts with several major job search websites.
2 days ago
Meadowdale High School 9th grade students Juanangel Avila, right, and Legacy Marshall, left, work t...
David Klepper and Manuel Valdes, Associated Press

Seattle high school teacher advocates for better digital literacy in schools

Shawn Lee, a high school social studies teacher in Seattle, wants to see lessons on internet akin to a kind of 21st century driver's education, an essential for modern life.
2 days ago
South Carolina Senators hear from the parents of people who died from fentanyl overdose on Jan. 19,...
Associated Press

With overdoses up, states look at harsher fentanyl penalties

State lawmakers nationwide are responding to the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history by pushing harsher penalties for possessing fentanyl and other powerful lab-made opioids that are connected to about 70,000 deaths a year.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Suspects sought after Florida drive-by shooting wounds 11