LAKELAND ― A Lakeland police officer and a 13-year-old boy were shot Wednesday evening in an exchange of gunfire in a Northwest Lakeland neighborhood, police and sheriff's officials said Friday.
Lakeland Police Chief Sam Taylor said officers responded to a report of a drive-by shooting near Simpson Park, a city recreational facility, at 5:16 p.m. Wednesday. While en route, officer Jamie Smith saw a white Dodge Avenger that matched the description of the suspect car and began a pursuit.
Along West 10th Street near Kettles Avenue, the car stopped and three people jumped out of the vehicle and fled, Taylor said. One was carrying a firearm, and fled to the Carrington Place apartment complex at 10th Street and Kettles Avenue, where Smith followed.
"As he rounded the corner, the 13-year-old was waiting for him in a crouched position with the handgun aimed at the officer and fired one round, at least one round," Taylor said. "The officer returned fire."
"The officer was struck one time in the left foot."
Smith continued the chase, but lost sight of the suspect as he rounded a corner and began asking other people where the suspect went.
Other officers began arriving in the area as Smith searched.
Fatal Tuesday accident SUV driver in fatal crash near Mulberry charged with driving without a license
2 years after suspension DeSantis reinstates Kris Fitzgerald to Lake Wales City Commission
"As they arrive, (Smith) walks past a large set of bushes that are close up to one of the buildings, he doesn't see him, he turns around," Taylor said. "As he turns around, this gentleman, the 13-year-old, jumps out of the bushes and begins to flee away and they engage in another gun battle there."
A second Lakeland officer Joseph Jano arrived on the scene during second gun battle, drew his firearm and fired at the suspect.
This time the suspect was "struck several times." Taylor said officers rendered aid to Smith and the suspect. The 13-year-old was taken to Tampa General Hospital, and his injuries are not considered life threatening. Taylor said the suspect was shot in the lower extremities.
"Last we heard was he was going to be treated and released," he said.
Smith was loaded into the back of a police car and taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Taylor said he's expected to be treated and released "sometime in the next several days."
Taylor said all three of the occupants of the car had been identified. "Two of the three, and possibly when we walk back down here, the third one, is in custody." He said at least one of the suspects is an adult.
The Ledger is not naming the juvenile in keeping with its crime-reporting guidelines.
But Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, appearing at the news conference with Taylor, said that on Jan. 1, sheriff's deputies responding to a report of vehicle burglaries found the 13-year-old with a stolen gun. He was on probation at the time of Wednesday's incident.
"Overnight, we're going to release a snippet (of video) ... that clearly shows (the suspect) spin and shoot the police officer," Judd said. "You won't be able to see the police officer because he's on the back of the building, but you will see (the suspect) shoot at the Lakeland police officer."
Taylor said police are still investigating but "there is some indication" that he was a gang member or an associate.
Judd said the Sheriff's Office will do the lead on the criminal investigation that will go to the State Attorney's Office. The State Attorney's Office will do an independent investigation. LPD will do an investigation and an administrative investigation.
Judd said he will push for the 13-year-old suspect to be charged as an adult in all criminal charges associated with Wednesday's events.
Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7545. Follow on Twitter @SaraWalshFl.
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Lakeland police officer and 13-year-old suspect shot in NW Lakeland