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Lakeland police kill a drive-by shooting suspect as officials continue efforts to reduce crime

A damaged car sits on a car loader
Chris O'Meara
Photo of a car police say was used in a drive-by shooting Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in Lakeland. Police say 11 people were shot and wounded. Images caught by a Ring doorbell camera helped police identify the vehicle.

In the days following the drive-by shooting, some Lakeland officials have pushed for increased surveillance to catch the gunmen and prevent future crimes.

Law enforcement officials believe a man killed by police following a carjacking in Winter Haven on Monday was involved in a drive-by shooting that wounded 11 people — two critically — in Lakeland last week.

The man, identified as Alex Greene, 21, was under surveillance by Lakeland Police, ATF, and Florida Department of Law Enforcement officers in connection with the shooting Monday. Officials say they attempted to serve a warrant on him in Eagle Lake before he fled.

After an officer ran into Green's truck in Winter Haven to stop him, Green carjacked another vehicle before police say he drove at a Lakeland officer who shot him.

The vehicle Green was in then drove into a nearby building. No one else was injured, and Green was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Green is believed to be involved in the shooting the afternoon of Jan. 29, which four suspects in a car opened fire on a street in the Midtown neighborhood.

Man in a car holding a bundle of cash
Polk County Sheriff's Office
This photo of suspect Alex Greene was taken from his social media account.

"We conducted some surveillance and came up on this gentleman. And I'm not going to be able to go into a lot of detail as to how we got up on him and how we felt like he was involved," Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor said at a Monday afternoon news conference. "I will tell you that we are very confident that he is in fact involved, to what extent, we don't know yet."

"Had he simply not run from us, not fled, then none of this would have happened," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "It's my phrase — we didn't choose to shoot him, he chose for us to shoot him."

While the investigation into both incidents continue, a recording might bring law enforcement a few steps closer to catching the other suspects.

"One of the key pieces of evidence for the incident that happened (Jan. 29) was a Ring doorbell video," Community Renovation Agency member Terry Coney told the Lakeland Ledger.

Law enforcement officials say that video helped them identify and track down the car used in the drive-by shooting.

Now Coney — who is also the president of the NAACP's Lakeland branch — believes that increased use of such surveillance equipment might be what the city needs to reduce crime.

According to the Ledger, Coney and other members of the CRA want to pursue the possibility of getting more cameras on the streets of what he calls "blighted areas."

"It has to be strategic and it has to be something we work with law enforcement to understand where they need it, in areas that they identify," CRA Manager Valerie Ferrell said. "Sometimes they only need it for a short period of time and [the cameras] can be moved."

Despite success in the past, not everyone in Lakeland is on board with more cameras. One city resident, Khalil Majied, told the Ledger one solution to fixing high crime rates comes from human surveillance.

"Someone once told me cameras can capture a crime, they don't thwart or prevent it," said Majied.

CRA member Chrissanne Long told the Ledger that she understands cost can be an issue when it comes to buying home surveillance systems. She proposed the idea of a program to help residents acquire such equipment.

Lakeland Police say anyone with information about the drive-by shooting can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers Florida at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477) or **TIPS on your cell phone.

Thomas Ouellette is is the WUSF Rush Family / USF Zimmerman Radio News intern for spring of 2023.
Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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