5 people dead after shooting inside a Florida bank, suspect taken into police custody

  • At least five people are dead after a shooting inside a Florida bank on Wednesday, authorities said.
  • Police identified the suspect as 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, and said he contacted dispatch while still inside the bank to tell them he had fired shots.
  • Authorities have not yet identified the victims.

At least five people were killed on Wednesday after a gunman opened fire inside a bank in Sebring, Florida, about 90 miles south of Orlando.

Police identified the suspect as Zephen Xaver, 21, who surrendered to authorities after negotiating with them from inside the bank.

Xaver “contacted dispatch and reported that he had fired shots inside the bank” shortly after noon on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.

He eventually surrendered to tactical officers after multiple negotiation attempts.

“We have at least five victims who were senselessly murdered as a result of this act in this bank,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund told reporters at a press conference.

Zephen Xaver Sebring Florida bank shooting
A mugshot of Zephen Xaver provided by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office. Highlands County Sheriff’s Office

Authorities did not identify a motive for the shooting.

“Obviously this is an individual who needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters at the press conference.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida tweeted Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken to Sheriff Paul Blackman about the incident, and that he and his wife were praying for those involved.

Photos from the scene showed a massive law-enforcement presence surrounding the bank, including scores of police officers, armoured vehicles, and helicopters. The FBI was reportedly also en route to the scene.

SunTrust chairman and CEO Bill Rogers said in a statement, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting at our Sebring, FL branch. We’re working with law enforcement & are dedicated to supporting the people & families impacted by this horrible & senseless tragedy. Our entire team mourns this terrible loss.”

The incident on Wednesday follows two other high-profile mass shootings in Florida. Seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the city of Parkland in February 2018, and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando claimed 49 lives.