Lakeland Police Department officers on paid administrative leave after shooting, killing suspect

LAKELAND — Two Lakeland Police officers are on paid administrative leave after shooting and killing a suspect they said shot at them from a parked vehicle along Interstate 4 near Kathleen Road Sunday morning.

According to information provided by the Lakeland Police Department, at around 2 a.m. a call came in from a state agency that monitors cameras in that area reporting “a suspicious vehicle parked in a construction zone on Interstate 4.”

Officers Tammy Hathcock and Garrett Zeigler showed up at the scene to investigate and found a man sitting in the vehicle. The officers approached the vehicle and tapped on the window to speak to the driver.

“As they approached the vehicle, the officers noticed the suspect arm himself – there was a series of shots,” said Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia as a press conference later that morning.

“Preliminarily at this point, we believe the subject did fire,” he added. “Our officers returned fire, neutralized the suspect.”

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The man, whose name was not released, was 61 and the sole occupant in the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Neither officer was injured during the incident, Garcia said.

While it is unknown which state agency called the police or why the vehicle was parked where it was, Garcia said the location is not easily accessible.

“It’s a very enclosed area – concrete barriers,” he said. “You have to take particular attempts to get in to enclose yourself in that area. We certainly do not know at this point in this investigation why this suspect was there.”

Garcia said standard protocol for Lakeland Police Officers involved in shootings include four independent investigations: The LPD Violent Crimes unit is conducting the death investigation; LPD’s Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative review; The State Attorney’s Office also responded to the scene and will conduct an investigation, as will the 10th District Medical Examiner’s Office.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Lakeland officers shoot, kill suspect who fired at them