January 23, 2019 / 10:07 PM / 8 months ago

Gunman surrenders after killing five in central Florida bank: police

(Reuters) - A gunman killed five people in a bank in central Florida on Wednesday and then called police to inform them of the shooting before he eventually surrendered, local authorities said.

The shooting occurred at the SunTrust Bank (STI.N) in Sebring, a town of about 10,000 people 95 miles (153 km) south of Orlando, around 12:30 p.m. ET (1730 GMT), Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said at a news conference.

The 21-year-old suspect, identified as Zephen Xaver, called 911 dispatchers and said he had shot five people inside the bank, according to authorities.

When police entered the bank, the gunman had barricaded himself inside but eventually surrendered, the Sebring Police Department said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Police did not offer any details about a possible motive.

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

No information has been released about the victims, who were the only people in the bank at the time of the shooting, police said.

A spokeswoman for the bank, Sue Mallino, said, “We are working closely with officials and seeking to take care of everyone affected at our Sebring, Florida branch.”

A spokeswoman for Stevens-Henager College in Utah said Xaver was an online student from September to December before he voluntarily withdrew.

Zephen Xaver, 21, a suspect in the shooting at the SunTrust Bank in Sebring, south of Orlando, Florida, U.S., is seen in this booking photo released on January 23, 2019. Courtesy Highlands County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS

Xaver lived for a time in northwest Indiana, local news in Indiana reported, citing social media accounts associated with the same name.

Xaver was hired in November to work at Avon Park Correctional Institution, a Florida Department of Corrections prison, before he resigned earlier this month, FloridaToday.com reported, citing state officials.

Avon Park did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus; additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien; writing by Joseph Ax; editing by Cynthia Osterman, Sonya Hepinstall and Lisa Shumaker

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