A man is in custody after entering a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, and opening fire, CNN is reporting. The town of Sebring, about 85 miles south of Orlando, is a smaller area with a population of just over 10,000 people, according to a 2010 U.S. Census. Twenty-one-year-old Zephen Xaver entered the bank Wednesday, January 23, shortly after 12:30 p.m. and fatally shot five people. Those killed have yet to be identified and families still need to be notified, according to authorities. It is also unclear whether the victims were customers or bank employees. The suspect is said to have called the police immediately after the act, telling authorities he had “shot five people.”
Sebring Police and Highlands County Sheriff’s Office deputies attempted to get Xaver to leave the building with no success. They then proceeded to send in a SWAT team who were able to negotiate with the suspect and take him into custody. Xaver’s motive for the crime has yet to be revealed. The community is now mourning following the tragedy.
“We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime,” said Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund.
“This is a terrible day for Sebring, Highlands County and for the state of Florida,” Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement.
#BREAKING: Police have released the mugshot of Zephen Xaver, the 21-year-old accused of killing at least 5 people at a SunTrust bank in Florida today: https://t.co/ktEmPigWci pic.twitter.com/DL6WUMjsFz— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) January 23, 2019
Also in “total shock” is Xaver’s father, Josh Xaver, who currently resides in Indiana. In a phone interview, Josh shared that his son moved to Florida around a year ago.
“I’m heartbroken for my son,” he said. “I’m heartbroken for the victims. He wasn’t raised to be like this. He’s always been a good kid. He’s had his troubles, but he has never hurt anyone ever before.”
Josh did not elaborate on what he meant by “troubles,” and authorities are still trying to investigate Xaver’s past and a potential reason for his crimes. According to Patrick Manderfield, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections, it was discovered that the suspect resigned from his job as a correctional officer trainee at Avon Park Correctional Institution only two weeks ago. He was hired by the institution on November 2 and resigned on January 9.
SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers released a statement on behalf of the company, sharing that they would be “working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved.”
The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are assisting in the investigation. Xaver is expected to appear in court on January 24.