11 wounded in drive-by shooting in Lakeland, Florida, police say
At least 11 people were injured in a drive-by shooting on Monday afternoon in Lakeland, Florida, with two of the wounded in critical condition, police said.
Local authorities originally reported that 10 people sustained injuries in the mass shooting, but updated the count to 11 during a news conference on Tuesday morning, after one additional person was admitted to an area hospital in connection with the crime. Police continued to search for the shooters, who remained at large when the Lakeland Police Department shared its latest update.
Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor had said at a news conference Monday evening that investigators believed the shooting was targeted, not random. Taylor said the shooting happened at about 3:45 p.m., and that gunfire came from all four windows of a slow-moving four-door Nissan. The car was described as being dark blue with tinted windows and a temporary tag.
By Tuesday morning, investigators had located a vehicle in West Lakeland that matched the description of the Nissan involved in the drive-by shooting, according to the police chief. They believe that four individuals were inside the car, Taylor said, and "at least two of them were actively involved in the shooting." However, Taylor added that "there may be more."
Police have "a high level of confidence" that the vehicle investigators found earlier on Tuesday is the one seen fleeing the scene of the Monday shooting in surveillance footage, although additional tests are underway in an effort to confirm the match.
"We do not have anyone in custody yet, however I will tell you that detectives worked throughout the night to identify suspects, and we have some ... I'll classify as very promising leads, very promising information," said Taylor. "And we are actively pursuing those leads right now, as we speak."
The police chief could only share basic details about the leads currently being pursued, but told reporters at the Tuesday news conference that detectives have identified more than one possible suspect, and that those individuals are from Polk County, but not from Lakeland. Although Lakeland is located in Polk County, the county itself is sprawling and encompasses roughly 1,800 square miles of land, according to census data. Lakeland is about an hour east of Tampa Bay.
Taylor said on Monday that two people were transported from the scene of the shooting to Lakeland Regional Hospital in critical condition. One was in surgery and the other was "either in surgery or headed to surgery" at the time of the evening press conference. One of them had been shot in the abdomen and the other suffered a gunshot wound to the "jaw area," Taylor said. He reiterated on Tuesday morning that both victims had suffered "very serious injuries" and said one was transported to another hospital in Tampa for treatment.
An additional nine people — including the eleventh victim who arrived at the hospital most recently as a walk-in — had injuries that were not life-threatening, he said. One of them suffered a ricochet wound, Taylor said. All nine are expected to be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday.
All the victims were adult males "described as between the ages of 20 and 35," Taylor said.
"This is something that doesn't happen in Lakeland," he said. "It actually saddens me to some extent that, we consider ourselves to be a small town situated between Tampa and Orlando, and when stuff like this happens, it just kind of hits home with me a little bit. Maybe we're not a small town anymore."
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