LAKELAND, Fla. Four people were shot, an 11-year old girl was killed and deputies came under fire early on Sunday morning in North Lakeland.
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the shootings occurred at 4:30 AM in two different houses.
Judd stated that two shootouts took place "in quick order" between police officers and the suspect. The suspect surrendered after being injured. The suspect was also involved in a shootout with Lakeland police officers and Florida Highway Patrol troopers. Police took the suspect into custody and discovered that he had shot an 11-year old girl "multiple times" as well as a woman, a man, and an infant.
The shootout resulted in no injuries to police officers.
Judd stated that the suspect, who he didn't identify, was a survivalist who came to fight. Judd said that the suspect had admitted to using methamphetamine.
Judd stated that a deputy arrived in the area at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday to assist a woman who called reporting a suspicious call. A man said to her, "God sent us here to speak to one of your daughters."
Polk County shooting: What do we know about the Lakeland gunfire that claimed four lives?
Images of bullet holes at a residence where Polk sheriff’s deputies, other police units, exchanged fire early Sunday with a shooting suspect.
Judd stated that nine hours later, a lieutenant located about two miles from Judd heard two shots of gunfire coming from the same area as the initial call. 911 calls started to come in reporting active shooting at the same time.
Deputies and other law enforcement officers arrived to find a truck on the blaze and a loud popping sound coming from the yard. They came upon an individual "totally dressed in body armor" and ready to engage them in an active shooter situation. Judd stated.
"But we didn’t see a firearm."
Judd stated that the man fled the house, and deputies heard a gunshot and "a woman screaming and a baby crying."
Judd stated that the lieutenant attempted to enter the house, but it was blocked off. The lieutenant then entered the house from the rear, exchanging gunfire and before he fled.
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Judd stated that three of the deputies in the front were killed by gunfire from the suspect. Other agents on the scene opened fire to rescue them.
Judd stated that things became quiet and the suspect ran out of the house holding his hands. He had been shot once.
Judd stated that the suspect was taken by Judd to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Judd stated that the suspect tried to grab the gun of the Lakeland police officer while being treated. They had to fight again in the emergency department.
They subdued him and continued to treat him.
Authorities arrived on the scene and entered one of the houses to find an 11-year old girl who had been shot multiple times. A man, a woman, and an infant were also found dead inside the home by deputies. Deputies also found a second woman who had been shot to death when they went to the house behind this one.
The 11-year old girl was transported to Tampa for treatment. Judd stated that authorities were still looking for another young girl "about 10 or 11 year old" but that there was no evidence she was present.
Judd stated that the suspect had told deputies "You know why" and described himself to be a survivalist.
This incident is the most horrific mass murder in Polk's recent history. Nelson Serrano shot his ex-business partner George Gonzalves and Frank Dosso in December 1997. Diane Dosso Patisso (27), and George Patisso (26) were killed at Erie Manufacturing in Bartow.
In 2006, Serrano was executed. In 2006, Serrano was sentenced to death. But, in 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida's death penalty unconstitutional. This allowed Serrano and other death row prisoners to be resentenced. He is still on death row, awaiting his resentencement.
This article first appeared on The Ledger. Lakeland Florida shooting: Four victims, including an infant.