LAKELAND, Fla. - A 79 year old vendor at Lakeland's Farmers Market is recovering Saturday evening after being shot in the stomach, Polk County Sheriff deputies say.
According to authorities, three men approached the victim's coin and gun booth around 7:45 Saturday morning at the market, located at 2701 Swindell Road.
The suspects informed the vendor that they wanted to purchase a gun from him. He declined to sell them a weapon. One of the suspects responded saying that they would return.
And they did. A few minutes later, deputies say six unknown men came back to the vendor's booth. One of them was armed with a hammer and smashed out the glass encasing the victim's handgun merchandise.
Another suspect, armed with a handgun, fired a shot that hit the vendor in the stomach. All six suspects ran from the scene toward a field located to the northwest corner of the farmers market. All of the suspects were wearing dark colored clothing.
The vendor was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery for his gunshot wound.
The victim is in stable condition as of Sunday night.
Deputies believe the suspects to be teenagers with dreadlocks. The suspect vehicle that was seen leaving the scene is described as a 2010-2013 black Suzuki hatchback with tinted windows and stock rims.
The Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information to contact their tip-line at 1-800-226-TIPS or go online to www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com . Informants may be eligible for a cash reward and can remain anonymous.