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Police: 5 Fatally Shot Inside Florida Bank, Suspect Arrested


Sebring, Florida, police chief Karl Hoglund wipes his head as he listens to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speak during a news conference, Jan. 23, 2019, after authorities said five people were shot and killed at a SunTrust bank branch.

A gunman opened fire inside a Florida bank Wednesday afternoon, killing five people before surrendering to negotiators, police said.

Zephen Xaver, 21, was arrested after the shooting at a Sebring SunTrust Bank branch, Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund said at a news conference.

“Today's been a tragic day in our community,” Hogland said. “We've suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

The victims were not immediately identified.

A man called police dispatch Wednesday afternoon to report that he had fired shots inside the bank, Hoglund said. Initial negotiations to get the barricaded man to leave the bank were unsuccessful, so the Highlands County Sheriff's Office SWAT team entered the bank to continue negotiations, and the man eventually surrendered.

Map of Sebring, Florida
Map of Sebring, Florida

Police didn't say what charges Xaver would face or indicate a motive.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was in the region for an infrastructure tour and traveled to Sebring after news of the shooting broke. He said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would assist Sebring police and the Highlands sheriff in any way possible.

“Obviously, this is an individual who needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” DeSantis said of the gunman.

A Sebring, Florida, police officer stands near a Highlands County Sheriff's SWAT vehicle that is stationed in front of a SunTrust Bank branch, Jan. 23, 2019.
A Sebring, Florida, police officer stands near a Highlands County Sheriff's SWAT vehicle that is stationed in front of a SunTrust Bank branch, Jan. 23, 2019.

SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers released a statement saying the bank is deeply saddened by the tragic shooting.

“We are working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved,” Rogers said. “Our entire team mourns this terrible loss.”

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