Lakeland city commissioner fatally shoots customer at store over stolen hatchet

Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn.
Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn.

LAKELAND, Fla. – A Lakeland city commissioner fatally shot a customer during a dispute over a hatchet inside the Army Navy surplus store he co-owns, authorities in Central Florida say.

The shooting happened Wednesday afternoon at the Vets Army Navy Surplus Store in Lakeland. Police spokesman Gary Gross said in an email that officers found 50-year-old Cristobal Lopez lying face-up just outside the door. He died at the scene.

Gross said witnesses told investigators Lopez entered the store with his father. Authorities say while the older man was making a purchase, Commissioner Michael Dunn saw Lopez trying to steal a hatchet. Dunn asked if he was going to pay for the item, a confrontation ensued and Dunn fired a gun, striking Lopez.

A criminal investigation is underway.

Dunn took office on the Lakeland City Commission in January.