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Lake Wales
Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tampa Man Charged With Shooting A Gun In Downtown Lake Wales


During the early morning hours of June 17, 2023, Lake Wales Police responded to a report of gunfire in the area of the historic downtown district. Officers spoke with witnesses that reported hearing shots coming from the area of First Street between Park and Stuart Avenue.
During a search of the area, officers located a pistol shell casing along with fresh tire marks in the alley behind Melanie’s Seafood Company located at 120 E Park Avenue. Officers were able to later obtain surveillance video footage of the incident which showed a black male subject driving a small silver or gray vehicle. The vehicle entered the alley from First Street then stopped behind Melanie’s Seafood restaurant. The driver exited the vehicle, fired a handgun toward First Street then quickly left the area.
As the investigation progressed, officers identified the suspect as 36-year-old Azarius Johnson of Tampa, who also has ties to the Lake Wales area. On June 22, 2023 officers located Johnson driving the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop, taking him into custody without incident. Inside the vehicle officers located both a handgun and ammunition matching evidence left at the scene. Johnson was charged with discharging a firearm in public (from a vehicle within 1000 feet of a person) which is a 2nd degree felony.
If you have any information regarding this crime, please contact the Lake Wales Police Department at 863-678-4223. If you would like to remain anonymous and be eligible for a CASH REWARD through Heartland Crime Stoppers, you can call 1-800-226-TIPS (8477) or from your cell phone, dial **TIPS. You can also visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit a Tip”, or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet to submit a tip.

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Staff Reporter

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