Lakeland Police are working to make a popular Lakeland hangout safe following the deadly shooting of a teenager by officers.
“This is a common ground for everybody to go after Rumors,” one witness told News Channel 8 that after the bar closes, they had to eat and hangout.
It was just before 3:00 a.m. early Wednesday morning when Lakeland Police were trying to break up a large crowd at Salem’s Eat Fresh restaurant on East Memorial Boulevard. Police tell News Channel 8 they approached a stolen black Camero, with guns drawn, when the driver, 17-year old Michael Taylor sped up, nearly hitting one of their officers.
Three officers fired into the car.
Taylor died from his injuries.
“What we want to do is protect our community,” said Chief Larry Giddens. Chief Giddens said they have had ongoing issues because the establishment is a popular late-night stop.
“After the bars close they come there, they gather, you have a mix of alcohol, gun play, arguing, fighting, and we’re hoping to resolve that,” Giddens said.
8 On Your Side has learned that Lakeland Police have responded to more than 200 calls in the last year to Salem’s, where the deadly shooting took place.
The Chief says restaurant ownership is working with them to improve safety at that location.
“They’re going to hire police officers for security up there, and we’re going to turn it into, after 2 o’clock, a drive-through that will not allow crowds to gather there,” Giddens said he hopes they never have to deal with another tragedy again. “I hope that this plan will work. If not, we will have to come up with something else.”
This weekend the restaurant will close early at 2 a.m. After that, on their busy nights, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Salem’s will only have the drive through open after 2 a.m.
The restaurant manager says he wants people to know it is safe there, and said unfortunately they have been losing business.