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Florida Gunman Killed All 5 Women in Bank in 'Random' Mass Shooting, Police Say

January 24, 2019 12:31 pm

The gunman who opened fire on a Florida bank branch killed all five people inside – all of them women – and then barricaded himself in the bank and wouldn’t let first-responders treat the victims, police said Thursday.

Police identified two of the victims of the shooting at SunTrust Bank Wednesday in Sebring, Fla.: customer Cynthia Watson and SunTrust employee Marisol Lopez. Authorities said the identities of the other three were being withheld following requests from their families.

Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund’s choked back tears during the press conference as he described the charges against 21-year-old Zephen Xaver.

“We have no information at this time as to what his true motive has been,” Hoglund said. “We believe it was a random act where nobody specifically was targeted.”

Hoglund said there was no indication the shooting was originally meant to be a bank robbery.

According to Hoglund, shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday officers received a 911 call from Xaver, who told dispatchers he killed five people in the bank.

Police negotiators, along with deputies from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and Sebring Police Department arrived to the scene, followed by SWAT team members.

Hoglund said during crisis negotiations with Xaver, “it appeared he was not going to allow officers… access to the victims in the bank.”

SWAT team members then entered the bank and took Xaver into custody. Xaver has been charged with five counts of premeditated murder.

“We now begin the healing process,” Hoglund told reporters. “We attempt to make sense of a senseless act.”


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