POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Three people were shot early Monday morning in unincorporated Lake Wales including a 12, 14, and 19-year-old during a pair of drive-by shootings that took place 17 minutes apart.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the first drive-by shooting took place around 2:52 a.m. in the Highland Park Manor subdivision on Laura Street.
There, deputies found 59 spent bullet casings from two different firearms sprawled out in front of a home. Of the 59 casings, 30 bullets struck the home near a bedroom window. Five people were inside the home at the time of the shooting.
A 19-year-old girl who was asleep in a bedroom was shot.
Authorities said she was taken to a local hospital where she is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Photos from the scene show the bullet casings in the street and bullet holes in a bedroom headboard.
Just 17 minutes later, around 3:09 a.m., deputies responded to another home in the Lake Pierce Ranchettes subdivision for a reported shooting.
Detectives suspect three people with firearms drove into the neighborhood, got out of a vehicle, and shot at the home. A total of 37 ammunition casings were found. Of which, 27 struck the house, most striking the bedrooms.
A 14-year-old girl sleeping inside the home was struck in the thigh and buttocks and a 12-year-old, also sleeping, was shot in the arm. Deputies said both children were taken to a local hospital, where they were treated for their injuries and later released.
“You notice that the bullet wounds are head-high in the headboard? Well for whatever reason these kids were sleeping sideways in the bed,” Judd said. “It’s a God thing.”
Judd said the 8 victims residing in the home had just moved in weeks prior. Relatives were also inside the home to celebrate the new year. Deputies said the family has no ties to gang activity.
“What do these POSs do? They shot up the wrong house!” Judd said. “They hit these poor innocent people that just moved in.”
Judd said it is still too early in the investigation to determine if the two shootings were related, but added, “There is possible rival gangs involved in this.”
“We got to hold the people accountable that tried to shoot up this house,” Judd added.
A reward of $3,000 was offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
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