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Polk County Sheriff Releases More Details About Lakeland Mass Murder

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - The Polk County Sheriff's Office released new information about the family that was shot and killed in their own home last weekend.

Officials say the man who killed the four family members claimed God told him there was a girl inside the house who was a sex trafficking victim and he needed to save her, but officials say none of that was going on inside the home.

Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff, says "There's not words to adequately describe the rage that we all feel about what he did to this innocent family who was simply sleeping in their home."

On Thursday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd released more details about what drove former marine veteran, Bryan Riley, to murder four family members in their home last weekend.

"We have a family that is going through a horror right now that no one should ever have to go through," said Sheriff Judd.

Sheriff Judd says Riley claims he was told by God that he needed to go to the family's house in lakeland and find a girl named amber who was a victim of sex trafficking and save her.

"There was no victims of such crimes in that house," said Sheriff Judd.

Sheriff Judd says no one was named amber there either, but Saturday evening, Riley allegedly approached the home and asked the father, Justice Gleason where amber was. When he said he didn't know an amber, Riley left, came back hours later and planned to kill everyone in the home.

"He repositioned his truck three times so he would have a fast departure. He searched through and spent time at the house to locate three entrances points," said Sheriff Judd.

He also lined glow sticks from his truck to the backyard to the back entrance of the home.

"So he could find his way out in an emergency at night and so if he found Amber, she could find her way."

Sheriff Judd says Riley then entered the home and shot Gleason, his wife, her mother and a three month old son. Then he moved on and found an 11-year-old girl.

"He said I want to know where Amber is and he counted down 3, 2, 1, pow. And he shot her," said Sheriff Judd.

Sheriff Judd says after being shot several times in the legs, stomach and hand, the little girl played dead and prayed.

"This 11-year-old was very brave, and very smart and she outthought him. Thank God," said Sheriff Judd.

Sheriff Judd says deputies arrived to the scene and shots were fired between them and Riley. Eventually Riley was shot in the stomach and he surrendered. Sheriff Judd says Riley admitted to having used meth, but it hasn't been confirmed yet by officials. The 11-year-old has seven bullet holes in her body and is in stable condition at the hospital.

"Her bravery. I can't underscore enough ability to think through of how to survive when she has just witnessed her father, her baby brother, and her stepmother viciously murdered," said Sheriff Judd.

This investigation is ongoing and we will have more details for you as soon as we receive them.

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