Man killed after pulling gun on Lakeland officers in construction zone, police say

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — A man is dead after allegedly pulling a gun on Lakeland police officers early Sunday morning, according to the department.

The Lakeland Police Department said the shooting happened at 2:15 a.m. after two officers, Tammy Hathcock Garrett Zeigler, sent to area near Exit 31 at Kathleen Road over a “suspicious vehicle” parked in a construction zone.

As the two officers approached the vehicle, they found a man sitting inside the vehicle and tapped on the glass to speak to him.

Police said the driver, who has not been identified yet, then pulled a handgun out and pointed it at one of the officers. Chief Ruben Garcia said it is believed the suspect even fired at the officers.

“In fear for their safety, officers returned fire, shooting the driver,” a Lakeland PD report reads. “The man, age 61 and sole occupant in the vehicle, was pronounced deceased at the scene, and the gun he possessed was recovered”

Neither of the officers were injured in the shooting, according to the LPD. Garcia also said its not known why the man was there.

The case is now under four independent investigations, per standard protocol regarding officer-involved shootings.

Officers closed part of I-4 Sunday morning following the shooting to investigate the situation, according to the department’s Twitter.

“The LPD Violent Crimes unit is conducting the death investigation,” the department said. “LPD’s Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative review. The State Attorney’s Office responded to the scene and will conduct an investigation, and the 10th District Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an investigation.”

In the meanwhile, both officers have been placed on administrative leave with pay.

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