Lakeland mayor says ‘gang members’ opened fire at Sweet 16 party, injuring 3 kids

LAKELAND, Tenn. — Three male juveniles were shot multiple times during a Sweet 16 party Sunday night in Lakeland, Shelby County authorities said.

The shooting happened on Matwood Oak Drive around 10:30.

“Some people showed up that were not invited. They were told they couldn’t come in and as I understand it, they kept trying to get in. They said, ‘Okay we’re shutting the party down,' and that’s when someone started shooting," Earle Farrell, spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, said.

Neighbors told us off camera they heard about eight gunshots and then saw kids running from the clubhouse, even jumping over some people’s fences.

Soon enough, ambulances and about 20 police cars filled the neighborhood.

“I think everybody reacted the same way when they heard a Sweet 16 party was shot up. This didn’t used to happen and it’s just a different time," Farrell said.

According to a Facebook post by Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker, the shooting was at a clubhouse used by a homeowners association, and the people involved were mostly teens from Cordova and Germantown high schools.

"Apparently this group was able to use a residents name to rent the facility for a 'Sweet Sixteen Party,'" Bunker wrote. "Gang members, who were refused entry, returned to their vehicle and began shooting at guests. Sources at the scene reported 3 shot with 2 in critical condition."

Mayor Bunker has friends who live in the neighborhood and rushed over after hearing about the shooting.

“For everybody, it’s kind of surreal. But the fact of the matter is, Lakeland is a great city. We’re a safe city and always will be," he said.

Bunker says the homeowner who paid to rent the space wasn’t at the party, which is something the association is looking into and plan to meet about.

Two of the victims were taken to Regional One in critical condition; another was listed as stable, according to the sheriff's office.

SCSO says they're interviewing potential suspects and say they were possibly in a white Chrysler 200.