LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — The four-door sedan pulled up near an intersection in a central Florida city where people were milling about, the windows came down and four people from inside the vehicle started shooting in all directions, wounding 10 men, including two critically, police officials said.
Only a minute earlier, a school bus had dropped off children in the neighborhood on Monday afternoon.
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. The victims were males between the ages of 20 and 35, said Lakeland Police Chief Sammy Taylor at a news conference Monday night.
After the shootings, the vehicle peeled off and police officers were still searching for it early Tuesday.
“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 was found at the scene of the shooting, and investigators believe drug sales were taking place.
Taylor described the neighborhood as “challenged,” a place where a lot of renters resided, and he said the police had focused a lot of attention on the area in recent years.
“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.”