‘I have shot five people,’ suspect in Florida bank shooting told police


'I have shot five people,' suspect in Florida bank shooting told police
Police vehicles and ambulances respond to the SunTrust bank branch Wednesday in Sebring, Florida.

In Summary

  • A 21-year-old allegedly shot five people dead Wednesday in a SunTrust bank in Sebring, Florida, then barricaded himself inside in what one official described as a "senseless criminal doing a senseless crime."
  • The suspect, wearing a shirt that read, "Death to the Wicked," then called police and bluntly told a dispatcher what happened, Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said late Wednesday in a statement.

A 21-year-old allegedly shot five people dead Wednesday in a SunTrust bank in Sebring, Florida, then barricaded himself inside in what one official described as a “senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

The suspect, wearing a shirt that read, “Death to the Wicked,” then called police and bluntly told a dispatcher what happened, Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said late Wednesday in a statement.  “I have shot five people,” Zephen Xaver said, according to Hoglund.

Xaver, this time wearing a black-and-white striped jail uniform, appeared in court Thursday via closed circuit camera and was charged with five counts of capital murder. He was ordered held without bond, the judge ruled, and appointed a public defender because he has no income or assets.

Still, a day after the shooting at the bank, many questions remain: Who were the victims? Why did this happen? And was there any way it could have been prevented?  Police are expected to speak more about the victims Thursday during a news conference. They have not been publicly identified, pending family notifications.

Xaver had resigned his job as a correctional officer trainee two weeks ago, authorities said. But law enforcement officials said they did not understand why he entered the bank and shot people.  “I have been in law enforcement all of my adult life, and this horrific incident shocks and angers me more than anything I have encountered in my career,” Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said Wednesday night.

“While we still don’t know what drove the suspect to commit this heinous act, there is no excuse that can justify the cold-blooded murder of multiple victims.”  Investigators and a crime scene unit spent hours collecting evidence at Xaver’s home and talked Wednesday night with people who know him, according to CNN affiliate Bay News 9.”This is a terrible day for Sebring, Highlands County and for the state of Florida,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

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