Florida bank shooter faces murder charges after five killed

  • In US
  • 2019-01-24 15:30:31Z
  • By By Gina Cherelus

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) - A 21-year-old Florida man accused of killing five people in a bank rampage has been charged with five counts of premeditated murder in the first degree, according to authorities.

The attack took place at the SunTrust Bank in Sebring, a town of about 10,000 people 95 miles (153 km) south of Orlando, at around lunchtime on Wednesday, Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund told reporters.

The suspect, Zephen Xaver, called 911 and said he had shot five people inside the bank, Hoglund said on Wednesday, adding that when police entered the premises, Xaver had barricaded himself inside before surrendering.

According to booking records on the Highlands County sheriff's website, Xaver was being held without bail on Thursday. Police have not offered any details about a possible motive but were due to hold another news conference Thursday.

Xaver lived for a time in northwest Indiana, according to local media reports there.

A woman who said she used to date him, Alex Gerlach, told Indiana TV station WSBT that he was fascinated with death and guns and often talked about wanting to harm people.

"I never understood where it started. For some reason (he) always hated people and wanted everyone to die," Gerlach told the station, adding that she tried to warn people in the past but no one believed her.

A woman named Sharon Spillane who described herself as a family friend told Fox 13 News of Florida's Tampa Bay area that Xaver was "very quiet" and "very well-mannered."

Hoglund said on Wednesday that it had been a "tragic day" for the community. "We've suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime," he said.

No information has been released about the victims, who were the only people in the bank at the time of the shooting, police said.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)


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