Police: 5 fatally shot inside Florida bank, suspect arrested

  • Law enforcement officials take cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla. Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. (The News Sun via AP)
  • A sheriff's department armored vehicle arrives at a SunTrust Bank branch, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla. Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. (The News Sun via AP)
  • Law enforcement officials take cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla. Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. (The News Sun via AP)

SEBRING, Fla. — A gunman opened fire inside a Florida bank Wednesday afternoon, killing five people before surrendering to negotiators, police said.

Zephen Xaver, 21, was arrested after the shooting at a Sebring SunTrust Bank branch, Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund said at a news conference.

“Today’s been a tragic day in our community,” Hogland said. “We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”

The victims were not immediately identified.

A man called police dispatch Wednesday afternoon to report that he had fired shots inside the bank, Hoglund said. Initial negotiations to get the barricaded man to leave the bank were unsuccessful, so the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team entered the bank to continue negotiations, and the man eventually surrendered.

Police didn’t say what charges Xaver would face or indicate a motive.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was in the region for an infrastructure tour and traveled to Sebring after news of the shooting broke. He said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would assist Sebring police and the Highlands sheriff in any way possible.

“Obviously, this is an individual who needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” DeSantis said of the gunman.

SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers released a statement saying the bank is deeply saddened by the tragic shooting.

“We are working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved,” Rogers said. “Our entire team mourns this terrible loss.”

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