LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — The Lakeland Police Department has charged a man with murder in connection to a fatal shooting at an apartment complex on July 2.
Thomas Anthony Rivera, 24, has been in the Polk County jail since July 3, when Lakeland police arrested him for allegedly tampering with evidence and lying to officers. Officers said that Rivera initially told them he was out walking his dog at the time of the shooting and returned to find the victim dead in their shared apartment. They also said Rivera claimed to see two men running from the apartment with guns.
Lakeland police said surveillance video at the apartment complex contradicted Rivera’s story. Evidence collected in the apartment revealed that Rivera was not only the sole person there at the time of the shooting, but he was also “in close proximity to the victim” when he died.
Police said Rivera waited half an hour or more to call 911 for his roommate, according to interviews with witnesses. The victim was taken to Lakeland Regional Health, where he succumbed to his injuries. His name is being withheld per Marsy’s Law.
The investigation is still active and open, according to Lakeland police. If you have any information about the shooting, you are asked to call Detective Troy Smith at 863.834.8958 or firstname.lastname@example.org or make an anonymous call to Heartland Crime Stoppers Florida at 1-800-226 TIPS (8477). Online tips can also be made by calling website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com or the “P3tips” mobile app.