LAKELAND, Florida, USA –
Four people were killed, including a mother and her baby, in what Florida police said was a mass shooting Sunday morning by a suspect who they said was “ready for battle.”
The suspect, whose name was not released, was wearing full-body protections, including a bulletproof vest, when he was found inside a Lakeland home that had been booby-trapped, said Grady Judd, County Sheriff’s Office. Polk.
After two rounds of gunfire at police, in which dozens were exchanged “if not hundreds of shots,” according to Judd, the suspect left the house at some point, then reentered until he finally surrendered. The suspect was shot.
Inside the house, authorities found an 11-year-old girl who had been shot several times.
The little girl told officers there were three people dead inside the home, Judd said during a news conference Sunday. He did not disclose the identity of the victims, nor that of the alleged aggressor.
Authorities sent robots to the house to check for explosives or other traps. When the situation was clear, they found a mother with a baby in her arms, killed by gunshot wounds. They also found the body of another woman who was shot in a nearby house.
Authorities have not released a cell phone for the shooting, but the police chief noted that the suspect met a witness approximately nine hours before the incident and told her: “God sent me here to speak with one of your daughters.”
No further details about the relationship between the assailant and the victims have been released.
The suspect also told authorities that he had used methamphetamine. Supplies for a shooting were also found in his vehicle, authorities said, including bleeding control kits.
“He was a coward,” Judd said. “It’s easy to shoot children, babies and innocent people in the middle of the night when you have the gun and they don’t.”
The assailant was hospitalized and is expected to recover.