At least 5 killed in Florida SunTrust bank shooting

by Kim Boateng Posted on January 24th, 2019

At least five people were killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring, Florida on Wednesday, police said. Sebring police said the suspected gunman, identified as 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, called 911 at about 12:30 p.m., saying he had opened fire in a SunTrust bank in the city 94 miles southeast of Tampa.

Sebring police officers and Highlands County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the scene, but were unable to negotiate with the gunman, who had barricaded himself inside the bank.

“After negotiations to try to get the barricaded subject to exit the bank were not successful, the HCSO SWAT team entered the bank and continued the negotiations,” Sebring police said, according to the Miami Herald. “The suspect eventually surrendered to the HCSO SWAT team.”

The identities of those killed in the shooting weren’t immediately released and he sheriff’s office asked co-workers and family members of anyone inside the bank during the incident to report to a nearby inn.

Police said they would provide more details on Thursday morning. They said that an investigation is ongoing, but that there is no further danger to surrounding areas; local schools were locked down during the incident.

Officials shut down U.S. Highway 27 in both directions and temporarily put the the Kindergarten Learning Center and Fred Wild Elementary on controlled campus during the incident. The campus lockdowns were lifted at 2:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to give local investigators assistance.

“This is individual needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” DeSantis said.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting at our Sebring, Florida branch this afternoon. We are working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved,” SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers said in a statement. “Our entire team mourns this terrible loss.”

Authorities have not yet suggested a possible motive.

Marco Rubio @marcorubio: Jeanette & I are saddened by the tragic crime today in #Sebring, #Florida. Please pray for the families of the victims. We are grateful for our law enforcement officials who brought this incident to an end before more people lost their lives. #Sayfie

Image: Sebring police identified 21-year-old Zephen Xaver as the suspected gunman who killed five people in a shooting at a SunTrust bank on Wednesday. Photo courtesy Highlands County Sheriff’s Office

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