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Dublin: 11 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020

Former trainee prison guard kills five people in shooting at Florida bank

The shooter called police from within the bank, telling them he had opened fire.

Police photo of Zephen Xaver
Police photo of Zephen Xaver
Image: AP/PA Images

FIVE PEOPLE HAVE died following a shooting in SunTrust Bank, in Sebring, Florida.

A 21-year-old gunman, Zephen Xaver, allegedly took hostages after barricading himself in the bank yesterday afternoon, local police said. 

The victims have not yet been identified, pending family notification. It’s unclear whether they were bank employees or customers. 

The shooter was a former trainee prison guard, and resigned from his job about two weeks ago. 

According to investigators, Xaver called police from within the bank, telling them he had shot people. 

When hostage negotiations failed, a SWAT team gained entry and captured Xaver. 

Awaiting information 

Police haven’t suggested a possible motive, and don’t yet know whether the attack began as a robbery. 

“Today’s been a tragic day in our community,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said during a news conference.

“We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

More information is set to be released at a press conference later. 

Xaver had recently moved with his mother from Indiana. A neighbour has said he kept to himself, though “he could hear him playing and yelling at video games in the middle of the night”.

Xaver was briefly enrolled in an online-course at Stevens-Henager College, and withdrew last December. 

SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers released a statement saying the bank was “working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved”.

The bank’s “entire team mourns this terrible loss,” he said.

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