LAKELAND, FLORIDA — On Tuesday morning, Lakeland Chief of Police Sam Taylor provided an update on the investigation of Monday’s drive-by shooting, which left 11 people injured.
Around 3:45 pm, a dark-colored Nissan sedan drove up to the would-be victims and two men in the car opened fire from both sides of the vehicle. Miraculously, all the men struck by bullets survived the attack. One victim who was shot in the face and another who was hit in the abdomen are still undergoing treatment for critical injuries.
Detectives have worked around the clock to identify suspects. In West Lakeland, police identified and impounded a vehicle believed to have been used by the perpetrators as they sprayed the victims with bullets. It is now undergoing a forensic investigation.
Chief Taylor said that several federal law enforcement agencies have reached out to offer their assistance – including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“We’re going to take them up on some of their offers of help, particularly when it comes to the lab processing of the evidence,” Chief Taylor said, referring to the suspects’ vehicle.
Gretl Plessinger – Communications Director with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) – confirms to The Florida Standard that the statewide agency received a request for assistance from Lakeland Police Department. FDLE Special Agents are currently helping local police with forensics and other elements of the investigation.
At the press conference, Chief Taylor said that police had encountered marijuana packaged for sale at the scene of the crime, hinting that the shooting may be drug related.
“It probably had something to do with narcotics,” he said.
During the press conference, Chief Taylor also confirmed that the suspects are from out of town – they are not local residents.
Lakeland, located in Polk County east of Tampa, is generally considered a safe city. It is listed as the 113th best city to live in America by U.S. News and World Report. Statistics show that crime is lower in Lakeland than the national average.
However, sources recently told The Florida Standard that law enforcement have noticed increased illegal activities in Lakeland and vicinity – particularly organized crime and drug trafficking operations.