Polk County deputies investigating shooting that left 19-year-old dead

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that left a 19-year-old dead.

According to PCSO, deputies were called to the Bartow Regional Medical for a report of a deceased gunshot victim. Upon arrival, detectives said they contacted and interviewed an 18-year-old friend of the victim, who witnessed the shooting and drove the victim to the hospital.

The witness told detectives the deceased texted him and said that he knew a place in Bartow where they could get some “free marijuana.” The witness also said that once he was in the deceased’s car, the deceased made comments about stealing the marijuana, according to PCSO.  

Deputies said the two then traveled to a residence in the unincorporated area east of Bartow where they met a third man (19 years old) who, according to the witness, provided the marijuana that the three men then smoked together. 

The witness also said that after about 45 minutes, he and the deceased said they needed to leave, but the resident asked to first be paid for the marijuana. It is at that time the witness said the resident and the deceased became involved in an altercation, which ended when the resident shot the deceased twice, according to PCSO. The witness then drove his friend to BRMC.

“This is a classic example of how drug crimes some people consider to be ‘low-level’ and ‘non-violent’ can quickly escalate to a 'violent' and even fatal situation,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.

PCSO said detectives interviewed both the witness and the shooter. This investigation is still on-going. 

Anyone with information about this shooting is urged to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863-298-6200. If anyone has information and wants to remain anonymous, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers - call 1-800-226-8477, visit the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on "Submit A Tip," or download the free "P3tips" app on your smartphone or tablet.