At least five people have been confirmed dead after a gunman infiltrated a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 24), according to local NBC affiliate WFLA.
The shooter has been identified as Zephen Xaver, a 21-year-old former Florida Department of Corrections Officer trainee and Sebring resident. Police initially responded to what was believed to be a hostage situation. The Highland County Sheriff’s SWAT team were called to the scene after Xaver alerted authorities he opened fire in the bank.
Xaver was hired as a trainee by Avon Park Correctional Institution in November 2018, however, he resigned on Jan. 9. There is nothing in his record that exposes disciplinary issues, as revealed by Patrick Manderfield, a Florida corrections department spokesman. There is also an ongoing investigation into the suspect’s social media presence to uncover the attack’s intentions and determine his mental health.
The negotiation team was reportedly unsuccessful in de-escalating the situation before SWAT team members were forced to enter the building where Xaver blocked himself in.
“This has been a tragic day for our community,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said during a news conference. “We’ve suffered a significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”
A news conference is scheduled for Thursday (Jan. 24).