Watch CBS News

5 people killed in Florida bank shooting; suspect in custody

5 killed in shooting at Florida bank
5 killed in shooting at Florida bank 01:56

Five people were killed in a shooting at a Florida bank, police said Wednesday. A gunman has been taken into custody after a SWAT team entered the SunTrust Bank branch in Sebring, Florida, Chief Karl Hoglund said at a press conference.

The suspect has been identified as Zephen Xaver, 21, of Sebring, Hoglund said. "Obviously this is an individual that needs to face very swift and exacting justice," Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the press conference. He added it was a "terrible day for Sebring, Highlands County and for the people of the state of Florida."

Officers responded Wednesday to the bank at 12:37 p.m. after a man called the area dispatch center and said, "I have shot five people," police said in a statement after the press conference. The victims were the only other people in the bank at the time of the shooting, police said.

Zephen Xaver mugshot Highlands County, Florida Sheriff's Office

"This has been a tragic day for our community," Hoglund said in the statement. "We've suffered a significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime."

5 killed in bank shooting in Florida, police say 03:32

No other details about the victims were released. Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman said another press conference would be held Thursday morning.

Sebring police had said initial negotiations to get the gunman to leave the bank were unsuccessful. A sheriff's office SWAT team entered the bank to continue negotiations, and the gunman surrendered, the police department said on Facebook.

Police said the incident was confined to the bank and that there was "no danger to the surrounding area." Earlier, police had asked co-workers and family members of anyone at the bank during the incident to meet at a hotel. Two nearby schools were temporarily placed on a lockdown, CBS affiliate WTSP-TV reports.

A statement from SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers said the bank was "working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all individuals and families involved."

Rogers added: The "entire team mourns this terrible loss."

What we know about the suspect

Sebring, Florida bank shooting suspect Zephen Xaver
Zephen Xaver Highlands County Sheriff's Office

Zephen Xaver was hired by the Avon Park Correctional Institution as a trainee in November 2018, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. He resigned Jan. 9, 2019 and had no disciplinary issues during that time.

The Associated Press reports police wrapped up a search Wednesday night at Xaver's nicely maintained, prefabricated double-wide home in a neighborhood of similar homes. 

Public records and neighbors say he and his mother moved to Sebring in the fall from Plymouth, Indiana, a town south of Notre Dame University, according to AP.

John Larose, who lives next door, said Xaver kept to himself, but he could hear him playing and yelling at video games in the middle of the night.

Xaver briefly was an online student of Salt Lake City-based Stevens-Henager College. A spokeswoman for the college, Sherrie Martin, confirmed that Xaver was enrolled from September 2018 until December, when he withdrew. 

Officials have yet to release a motive for the shooting.

Sebring, Florida, SunTrust deadly bank shooting
A Sebring, Fla., police officer stands near a Highlands County Sheriff's SWAT vehicle that is stationed in front of a SunTrust Bank branch, on Wed., Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla., where authorities say five people were shot and killed. AP

Peter Martinez contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.