SEBRING, Fla. (AP) — A gunman opened fire inside a Florida bank Wednesday, killing five people before surrendering to a SWAT team, police said.
The shooter called police to report that he had fired shots inside the bank in Sebring, about 80 miles southeast of Tampa. Negotiations failed to persuade the barricaded man to leave the building. The SWAT team then entered the bank, and the gunman eventually gave up, police said.
“Today’s been a tragic day in our community,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund told a news conference. “We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”
Authorities identified the suspect as 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, who was arrested at the SunTrust branch, Hoglund said. Since November 2018, Xaver worked as a correctional officer at Avon Park Correctional Institution. He resigned earlier this month, according to Florida Today.
A Facebook profile, which contains a photo similar to the suspect makes a reference of Xaver as (once) living in Bremen and being from Plymouth, according to WNDU. The Facebook page profile picture shows a depiction of the Grim Reaper.
Xaver reportedly attended Plymouth High School and Bremen High School.
Investigators did not offer any potential motive, and a police spokesman said he did not know if the attack began as a robbery. The dead were not immediately identified.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was in the region for an infrastructure tour and traveled to Sebring after the shooting. He said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would assist Sebring police and the Highlands County sheriff’s office.
“Obviously, this is an individual who needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” DeSantis said of the suspect.
An FBI mobile command unit arrived at the bank Wednesday evening to join the investigation.
SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers released a statement saying the bank was “working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved.”
The bank’s “entire team mourns this terrible loss,” he said.