5 killed in shooting at Florida bank, suspected gunman in custody

Zephen Xaver, 21, arrested in Sebring shooting

By Brianna Volz - Web producer, Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

SEBRING, Fla. - Five people were killed Wednesday during a shooting at a Florida bank and a 21-year-old man is in police custody, according to Sebring police officials.

Highlands County officials said authorities responded to a SunTrust bank on U.S. 27 South where a person had called dispatchers to tell them he had just fired shots inside the bank. Sebring police and Highlands County deputies established a perimeter before SWAT team members entered the bank in attempt to free any possible victims, officials said.

Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund said after SWAT team members breached the bank they found five victims dead inside. The five victims were the only people inside the bank at the time of the shooting, authorities said.

"We’re sorry to learn that we have at least five victims," Hogland said. "People that were senselessly murdered."

The suspect, identified as Zephen Xaver, 21, of Sebring, eventually surrendered to SWAT team members, Hogland said.

Zephen Xaver, 21. (Image: Highlands County Sheriff's Office)

"I know he surrendered peacefully, he did not put up a fight, he was taken into custody in handcuffs," Sebring Police Department Cmdr. Curtis Hart said.

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

Gov. Ron DeSantis was at the Highlands County Sheriff's Office and spoke to the media before Hogland's update.

"I've asked FDLE to provide whatever resources, that we can at the state level to assist with the investigation," DeSantis said. "Obviously this is an indviudal that needs to face very swift and exacting justice."

The mass shooting marks Florida's seventh in less than three years, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.

Live pictures from the scene around 2:30 p.m. showed a massive law enforcement presence.

U.S. 27 was shut down in both directions from Golfview to Lakeview Drive. Traffic was being re-routed, and only law enforcement officials and other first responders were allowed in the area.

The scene of a shooting in Highland County. (Map: WKMG/Bing)

Nearby schools were placed under conditional lockdowns while the suspect was barricaded and school buses were delayed, according to the report.

The Highlands County Sheriff's Office is having co-workers and family members of anyone who was at the bank during the incident go to Inn on the Lakes, the report said.

Deputies said around 2:45 p.m. there was no threat to the surrounding area.

SunTrust officials released a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting at our Sebring, Florida branch this afternoon," SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers said. "We are working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved. Our entire team mourns this terrible loss."

Zephen Xaver.

Hogland declined to answer questions and said authorities would not provide another update on the active investigation until 11 a.m. Thursday.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates.

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