A gunman killed at least five people at a Florida bank branch before he barricaded himself inside Wednesday, police said.
Zephen Xaver, 21, is in custody following the shooting, which happened about 12:30 p.m. at the SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Fla., according to authorities. Xaver was a former prison guard trainee who recently relocated from Indiana to Florida, the Associated Press reports.
Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund called Xaver a “senseless criminal doing a senseless crime,” during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators said a standoff ensued after the gunman called police from inside the bank to tell them he had opened fire. After initial negotiations failed and Xaver refused to leave the premises, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team entered the building and continued negotiating with him. Xaver later surrendered to the SWAT team, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sebring, a city of 10,000, is about 90 miles southeast of Tampa in the center of the state.
Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell spoke to Fox 13 shortly after the shooting.
“We are a county of 100,000 people and it’s a small tight-knit community. This is going to go down in history as a horrific event for our community,” he said.
Aerial footage from local TV shows what appear to be the doors of the bank branch smashed in.
Police advised co-workers and family members of those who were at SunTrust Bank on Wednesday to go to Inn on the Lakes, specifying that only colleagues and family were to report there.
Florida representatives said they were briefed on the shooting. Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted Wednesday that he’d spoken to authorities regarding the shooting.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott tweeted that he had been updated on the incident.
Two schools in the area — Kindergarten Learning Center and Fred Wild Elementary School — were operating on heightened security as a result of the possible shooting.
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