By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
On May 27 (2018), according to local reports, four teens fired gunshots into the Clubhouse in the Oakwood subdivision in Lakeland, Tennessee, wounding three teenagers attending the party.
A resident and member of Oakwood HOA says she rented the Clubhouse for a Sweet 16 birthday party for her goddaughter. Family members say they were chaperoning the party, and began turning people away shortly after 10 P.M.
Sheriff’s Investigators did recover shell casings at the scene, but, to date, no arrests have been made.
In the days after the shooting, WMC Action News 5 reported that “bouncers” stopped four teens at the door of the Clubhouse, denying entry to the party. In the same report, Lakeland Mayor Wyattt Bunker threw fuel on the fire with his public remarks saying that “gang members” had shot up the Clubhouse at Oakwood, even though, to this day, there’s no evidence that the shooters belong to a gang. Wyatt also stated that the hosts of the party apparently anticipated trouble. In that report, Wyatt says:
“If they felt the need to have a bouncer, in Lakeland, they knew that they were probably drawing trouble.”
The Mayor made a big deal out of the fact that attendees of the party at Oakwood were students at Cordova and Germantown High Schools. According to U.S. News, minority enrollment is 84% at Cordova High School and 81% at Germantown High School.
According to City-Data, based upon Census figures, 81% percent of Lakeland’s population is Caucasian (White).
Was the Mayor insinuating that students attending the party at Oakwood Clubhouse did not belong in the Oakwood neighborhood?
In the same WMC report, homeowners accused the HOA of allowing a nonresident to rent the Clubhouse for the birthday event.
Immediately following these local reports of the crime, the news exploded on social media. On an Oakwood community Facebook page, residents of the HOA started blaming the resident who hosted the party at the clubhouse for bringing trouble to their quiet community. They also accused the HOA of not following its policy for renting the Clubhouse to members only.
At the time, family members of the 16-year old girl denied the rumor that bouncers were guarding the entry to the Clubhouse at Oakwood. Several adult family members say they were present as chaperones during the entire gathering, with two adults screening teens showing up for the party.
The unidentified host of the party, who does, in fact, reside in Oakwood, received numerous threats from neighbors, prompting her to file an intimidation report with the Shelby County Sheriff.
But the drama doesn’t end there.
Last week, parents of shooting victims filed a lawsuit against the individuals who organized the party and rented the Clubhouse, as well as Oakwood HOA.
According to a recent report on WREG News 3 Memphis, parents who allowed their teens to attend the party say their kids received a promotional flyer advertising there would be security at the birthday event. The legal complaint alleges inadequate security at the party, and blames the party hosts and Oakwood HOA for not ensuring the safety of party attendees.
Ironically, HOA residents who complained about non-existent bouncers now face collective liability for a lawsuit claiming the HOA failed to provide security for its Clubhouse event.
At this point, it’s unclear who created the flyer promoting the Sweet 16 party. The teens who were shot reportedly share “friends in common” with the birthday girl, but did not know her personally.
A parent of one of the shooting victims that is a Plaintiff in the lawsuit says her son was shot while seated in the back of a parked car, before he and the driver had even entered the Clubhouse to join the party.
That statement seems to contradict earlier reports alleging that gunshots were only fired directly into the Clubhouse.
Stay tuned for updates, as this story continues to unfold.
Families of kids shot at Lakeland party file lawsuit
POSTED 5:52 PM, JUNE 29, 2018, BY STACY JACOBSON, UPDATED AT 10:20PM, JUNE 29, 2018
LAKELAND, Tenn. — For the first time, the families of victims of a shooting at a Sweet 16 party in Lakeland are speaking about that night.
It happened May 27 at a clubhouse in the Oakwood subdivision.
Deputies said four men who weren’t allowed inside might’ve opened fire in the parking lot a short time later. They still haven’t arrested anyone from the May shooting.
Now, the moms of three teenage victims are looking for justice in another way — they filed a lawsuit against the people who threw the party, those who rented the clubhouse and the entire Oakwood Homeowners Association.
The families filed the lawsuit Friday afternoon, saying their biggest issue is there should’ve been more security at this clubhouse.