[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake Legal News]
[Original Publish Date: 08/16/20]
TAVARES, Florida — “We need the community’s help.”
Investigating the third shooting in as many days, Tavares Police Lt. Sarah Coursey is frustrated. Multiple shootings over the last few months have gone unsolved because witnesses and victims will not cooperate in many cases, such as the shooting that occurred shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday.
A vehicle stolen from Orange County was used in a drive-by shooting at a home on Bryan Street in Tavares, and “gunfire was exchanged,” Coursey told Lake Legal News. No one was injured.
LLN was on scene of that shooting, as a large crowd gathered in front of Colony West Apartments, 750 W. Main Street, Tavares, and harsh words were exchanged between the crowd and a woman who appeared to be connected to two men who were detained. The crowd also advanced towards the detainees, and law enforcement officers stepped in to de-escalate the situation.
LLN saw two men detained by Lake County Sheriff’s deputies, a white man and a black man, who appeared to have run out of their shoes; but those men were later released due to uncooperative victims and witnesses, Coursey said.
Coursey told LLN, one witness did step forward to make a statement Sunday but was called a “snitch” by a large crowd and the witness quickly changed their mind.
“Nobody is cooperating, “Coursey said. “It is very disheartening for us [police]. This is our city too. We normally don’t have this level of crime.”
Residents are frustrated too. Kasi Jones, 27, spoke to LLN on the scene and said she feels police are not doing enough. She said she thinks it is the same group of people responsible for the rash of shootings the city has seen in the last several months.
“It’s the same people, they‘re following us,” Jones told LLN.
She said believed the detained men were responsible for Sunday’s drive-by shooting. “If you’re innocent, why are you running?”
Francena Weatherspoon, also of Tavares, prays about all the shootings. “We are crying out for help,” she told LLN. “These people come to Tavares and bring the problems,” she said.
TPD is also investigating two other shootings that occurred this week. Saturday, a vehicle was shot at by another vehicle near Rosewood Condominiums and a man was injured by glass fragments, Coursey said. No one is cooperating in that case either.
Around 9:15 p.m. Thursday, TPD received multiple reports of shots fired near Colonial Pines Apartments, 895 Mansfield Road, Tavares. TPD and Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies searched the area and found 9mm shell casings near Mansfield Road and Hibiscus Court, according to a report. A fully loaded 9mm handgun was also found close to the shell casings, but likely was not fired in that shooting because it was fully loaded, it was noted in the report. A dark-colored truck was captured on video surveillance at the time of the shooting. No one was injured.
It has been a busy week for both TPD and Eustis Police Department. Early Thursday morning, a shooting was reported in the 2000 block of Bates Avenue in Eustis, no one was injured in that shooting, EPD Cpl. Lauren Brown told LLN last week. Just over 24 hours later, a man in a vehicle was shot at the same house on Bates Avenue, Brown said. The man was shot in the leg and taken to AdventHealth Waterman. All the cases are still under investigation, if you have information on any of these cases, call EPD at 352-357-4121 or TPD at 352-742-6200.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]