Lakeland Police look for leads in drive-by shootings

LAKELAND, Fla. - "It's very, very disturbing," remarked Paulette Crews.

Crews has lived in the same area of northwest Lakeland for 30 years.  With a recent increase in drive-by shootings, mostly involving teenage victims, she grows more concerned about the violence.

"I think they just really don't understand how catastrophic shooting, and guns and violence is.  I don't think they realize it," she said.

According to Lakeland Police, there have been five drive-by shootings clustered in northwest Lakeland in just the last 9 days.

"It's of grave concern to us, all these shootings, because we've had several of them since July 3 and they're happening almost every other night," said Sgt. Gary Gross of the Lakeland Police Department.

Detectives now believe that some of the victims are connected to local gangs.

15-year old Tavein Parrish lives near the scene of the most recent shooting that happened Wednesday night.

"I don't know if it's gang.  I don't know if it's like just a little recruitment or whatever they got going on.  I don't know what they're trying to do, but they just need to stop," Parrish said.

Police have increased patrols in the areas of the shootings and have appealed to local church leaders to help stop the violence.  Some nearby residents are afraid to come out after dark; and many are just plain fearful.  Alicia Crumity has lived on Jewel Avenue for almost a year.

"I'm scared you know; could be one day a gun shoots through my door and they hit my kid or something," said Crumity.

"People are held hostage because they're afraid to go outside.  And that's not what we want. We want them to have a quality of life in Lakeland where they can go for a walk, they can take their dog out, and we're going to make sure it gets back to that," Gross explained.

"I guess they're not going to be happy until they put somebody's kid into the ground," Parrish said.

Lakeland Police is seeking assistance from the public to help identify suspects from the shootings.

If you have information, contact Lakeland PD Sergeant Terri Smith at 863.834.6917, or call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800.226.8477.

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