Flood Warning issued September 21 at 8:56PM EDT expiring September 26 at 2:00PM EDT in effect for: Hillsborough
A Lakeland police officer and suspect were injured Tuesday morning while exchanging gunfire near North Lake Wire Park, according to the agency.
Officer Doug Mills, 36, was struck in the upper right forearm by a bullet that exited his elbow, according to Lakeland Police Department. He was taken to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment and returned home Tuesday afternoon.
Tommie A. Lanier, 66, of 911 Quincy St. in Lakeland, was struck three times when officers returned his gunfire, police said. He was in critical condition at LRMC on Tuesday night. His arrest report says he received surgery for his wounds.
A warrant has been issued charging Lanier with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
Lakeland Police Department detailed in a news briefing, press releases and Lanier’s arrest report how the shooting occurred:
Officers began pursuing the man about 10:30 a.m. when they received information that a wanted person was in the area of 100 W. Parker St.
Mills and Sgt. Jeff Gary, 54, arrived in the area to search for the suspect. They found Lanier, who matched the suspect’s description, walking from North Lake Wire Park toward Florence Avenue.
Officers stopped Lanier in the front yard of a home at 800 N. Florence Ave., about a half mile from Lanier’s address. He backed up and pulled a gun from under his shirt.
He fired at Mills twice as the men stood about 12 to 15 feet apart. Mills was exiting his motorcycle when the shots were fired.
Mills and Gary immediately returned fire, hitting Lanier.
Investigators are unsure why he fired on Mills and Gary. They later determined Lanier was not the same person initially reported to officers.
Police rushed to LRMC for word of Mills' condition. He returned home Tuesday to recover.
"We're very proud of him today and the way he responded to this type of encounter," Assistant Chief Mike Link said.
Link was among the officers who crowded into the emergency room after the shooting.
"I was able to walk into the room and see Doug for just a few minutes," he said. "They were examining [him] still and treating [him] a little bit, but he was in good spirits. As best as he could [be] under the circumstances. Definitely in a little bit of pain, obviously."
According to Lanier’s arrest report, a bullet was found between Mills’ shirt and body armor, but investigators don’t know if it was the same one that injured him.
The officers discovered the Lanier was carrying three additional guns. Officers are unsure how many times he was struck. The agency is also now reporting they are unsure if he was the same many wanted by Polk County deputies.
Lakeland Police and the State Attorney’s Office are investigating the shooting.
Mills, who joined LPD in December 2008, and Gary have been put on leave pending an investigation, which is common in police-involved shootings.