On May 18, the Lakeland Police Department officially formed the cold-case team of Detective Scott Kercher and Detective Brad Grice. In light of this recent focus on cold cases and attention by the State Attorney’s Office and The Ledgers series on cold cases, “It takes a community to solve a murder”, an indictment was served yesterday on Sylvester Nathaniel Smith, 32 yrs old, for First Degree Murder. We are hoping that this is one many cases to come as a result of the newly formed Cold Case Unit.
On October 24, 2013 at approximately 10:12 p.m., several 911 calls were received about gunshots in the area of Gilmore Avenue and Parker Street. Patrol Officers responded and upon arrival located, Thomas Howard Garrison, 43 yrs old, with two gunshot wounds. Garrison was found lying at the end of the driveway at 708 East Parker Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sylvester Nathaniel Smith is already incarcerated in the Polk County Jail on 3cts of Aggravated Battery with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. These charges stem from a January 19th shooting at the Elks Lodge; 1026 N. Texas Avenue in which one victim was shot 5 times, another victim 1 time and a bystander was hit in the face with the handgun knocking him to the ground. Smith was identified as the suspect in that case and has been in jail.
No other details are being released on the indictment at this time. A copy is attached.