Prosecutor seeks death penalty for alleged Florida SunTrust bank shooter

by Kim Boateng Posted on February 9th, 2019

Sebring, Florida: A prosecutor says he plans to seek the death penalty for a man, Zephen Allen Xaver arrested in the fatal shootings of five women at SunTrust bank in Florida last month.

State Attorney Brian Haas said at a news conference Friday that he had reached the “unquestionable conclusion” that he should seek the death penalty against 21-year-old Zephen Xaver.

Haas also said a grand jury in Highlands County, Florida, this week had indicted Xaver on five counts of first-degree murder. Xaver will be arraigned later this month.

Four employees and a customer at the SunTrust bank were killed last month.

Sebring Police officials say the women were shot in an apparently random act of violence.

Hass on Friday didn’t offer any further details on what motivated the suspect.

Police said Xaver shot all five people execution-style last month at the Sebring, Florida, bank.

After the shooting, he called 911 and told dispatchers he was in the bank, armed with a handgun and wearing a bulletproof vest, according to an affidavit released by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.

“I have shot five people,” Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund quoted him as saying.

When SWAT teams burst through the bank’s locked doors, they found the women lying limp on the lobby’s floor. They had apparent gunshot wounds in their backs and heads, authorities said.

Hoglund has called the shooting a “senseless crime.” There is no clear motive, the gunman apparently had no plans to rob the bank and he had no known connection to anyone there, officials said.

Authorities said Xaver had interactions with police officers in Indiana in recent years after they received calls reporting his desire to kill or harm people.

He was hired in November as a correctional officer trainee at Avon Park Correctional Institution and resigned January 9, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections said.
Xaver was ordered held without bond, a Highlands County judge ruled.

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