Breaking News
More () »

Man stopped in car on highway shot, killed by officers after pulling gun on them, police say

No officers were injured. Interstate 4 near Lakeland was closed for several hours.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Officers shot and killed a man sitting in his car on the side of the highway early Sunday morning after they say he pulled a gun on them.

Around 2:05 a.m., Lakeland police reportedly received a call from a state agency asking officers to respond to a "suspicious" car parked in a construction zone on Interstate 4, near exit 31 at Kathleen Road.

Two patrol officers, Officer Tammy Hathcock and Garret Zeigler, responded to the location within minutes to investigate, police report.

Once on scene, officers say they saw the man sitting in the car. 

After approaching the car and tapping on the window, police say the man grabbed a handgun and pointed it toward one of the officers.

There were a series of shots that police believe were fired toward the officers, Chief Ruben Garcia said during a news conference.

Garcia said the officers, in fear of their safety, returned fire, shooting the driver.

The 61-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

No officers were injured.

It is unclear how the man got into the construction zone, Garcia explained.

Lakeland Police Department's Violent Crimes Unit and Office of Professional Standards, the State's Attorney's Office and the 10th District Medical Examiner's Office are involved in the investigation.

Following the incident, police closed both directions of the interstate near Kathleen Road, exit 31, for several hours.

All westbound and eastbound lanes reopened around 9:15 Sunday morning.

The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave during the initial phase of the investigation, which is protocol in these situations.