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News and Investigations

News & Investigations

News Releases and Public Information

Welcome to the Polk County Sheriff's Office News Room, where the Public Information Officers (PIO's) post all of the information that they release to the news media. PIO's act as liaisons between news media organizations and the Sheriff's Office. The PIO's routinely release timely and accurate information and Crime Stoppers bulletins, and respond to routine and "breaking news" media inquiries. News releases and Crime Stoppers information can be found on this page.

PCSO's full-time Public Information Officers are Brian Bruchey, Carrie Horstman, and Alicia Manautou. The Public Information Officers can be reached by sending an e-mail collectively at

The recent news releases sent out by the PIOs can be found here, and archived releases (older than 2017) can be found here.

Mar 2, 2023

Self-proclaimed rapper and gang member La'Darion Chandler charged with first degree murder

Media Contact: Carrie Horstman, Administrator

On Tuesday, February 28, 2023, Polk County Sheriff’s Homicide detectives charged 19-year-old La’Darion Chandler, DOB 2/10/2004, of Lakeland, with first degree murder in the shooting death of a 33-year-old Lakeland man whom Chandler shot in December 2022. The victim died several weeks later.

Chandler was arrested on February 22nd for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after pointing a gun at and threatening another victim in the Secret Cove subdivision in Lakeland. He’s been in the Polk County Jail since that arrest, being held on no bond. While investigating the December 2022 shooting, detectives developed probable cause to charge Chandler with murder in the first victim’s death.

On December 17, 2022, a 33-year-old male was shot in the back on Pirates Way within the Secret Cove subdivision of Lakeland. He was transported to a local hospital in critical, but stable, condition. Detectives received tips from the community and were able to identify other victims and witnesses to the shooting, several of whom are documented gang members, including La’Darion Chandler. The victim – who belonged to a rival gang of Chandler’s - succumbed to his injuries on January 9, 2023. 

"Our crime is at a 51-year low, and our violent crime was down last year -- shootings like this one don't represent what's going on all over Polk County. But there is a problem with very young gangsters shooting at each other - a problem that we aim to solve. The suspects in shootings like this one aren't even supposed to have guns. We need your help to get illegally owned guns off the streets. Contact Heartland Crime Stoppers - remain anonymous - and get $500.00 in cold hard cash. Anonymity is guaranteed." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

Chandler was arrested for the February 22nd aggravated assault incident at an apartment where he lives on Pirates Way, which is near both crime scenes (the fatal shooting, and the aggravated assault). Detectives served a search warrant in the apartment and discovered ammunition in a black duffel bag. Chandler was convicted of three felonies as a juvenile – for fleeing to elude, grand theft of a motor vehicle, and vehicle burglary - and was additionally charged with convicted delinquent in possession of a firearm or ammunition, with a gang enhancement (which elevates the charge from a second degree felony to a first degree felony). 

Detectives also located a rap video on Chandler’s social media pages where he talks about shooting someone in the back – details that had not been publicly released. Click here to see the video on the PCSO YouTube channel.

The lyrics are:
Ni**a tried to run
I hit his back
Though I shoot like a mac
Dirt ass dead ni**as knowing where to find me at

Other rap songs on Chandler’s social media pages include lyrics about always being armed and photos of himself holding firearms. 

"We will pay FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS to recover the gun used in this homicide. Contact Heartland Crime Stoppers - we get the gun, and you get a whole lot of cash." - Grady Judd, Sheriff

Chandler is being held on no bond and has been charged with the following:

• First degree murder (capital felony)
• Convicted delinquent in possession of a firearm (F1)
• Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (F3)