U.S. NEWS

At Least 5 Dead After Gunman Opens Fire At SunTrust Bank In Florida

Law enforcement officials have identified the suspect as 21-year-old Zephen Xaver.

At least five people were killed after a gunman opened fire inside a SunTrust bank in Sebring, Florida, on Wednesday, according to law enforcement officials.

At a press conference in the late afternoon, officials identified the suspect as Zephen Xaver, 21. They provided no details on Xaver’s motive for the shooting.

Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund said that the victims were “senselessly murdered” after the suspected gunman barricaded himself inside the bank.

A county official confirmed to HuffPost earlier on Wednesday that a suspect had been taken into custody after police responded to reports of a shooting at the bank. The suspect had called police around 12:30 p.m. to report that he fired shots inside the bank.

After negotiations to get Xaver to come out of the building failed, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team swarmed the bank and Xaver surrendered. 

“Today’s been a tragic day in our community,” Hoglund said Wednesday. “We’ve suffered a significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

The sheriff’s office said in a statement that the situation was confined to the bank and that there was no danger to the surrounding areas.

Speaking at Wednesday’s press conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide state-level resources to assist with the investigation.

“Obviously, this is an individual that needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” DeSantis said.

Zephen Xaver surrendered to a SWAT team after he allegedly opened fire at the SunTrust Bank in central Florida on Wednesday.
Zephen Xaver surrendered to a SWAT team after he allegedly opened fire at the SunTrust Bank in central Florida on Wednesday.

There have been 19 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019, five of which have taken place in Florida, according to the Gun Violence Archive’s database. The Sebring shooting is the deadliest in the U.S. so far this year.

Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell said the incident would be remembered as “a horrific event for our community.”

“We are a county of 100,000 people, and it’s a small, tight-knit community,” Elwell told Fox 13 News. “This is going to go down in history as a horrific event for our community. ... There were definitely people shot, but the extent of injuries, I cannot say. We will get through this.”

This story has been updated with more details.

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Shooting At Suntrust Bank In Sebring, Florida
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