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Sebring bank shooting appears to have been random act, police say

Zephen Xaver, 21, had been prison guard trainee before resigning Jan. 9

SEBRING, Fla. – A shooting at a Florida bank that killed five women appears to have been a random act, police said.

Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said Thursday that customer Cynthia Watson, 65, of Venus, and bank employee Marisol Lopez, 55, of Lake Placid, were among the victims of Wednesday's shooting at a SunTrust branch.

Cynthia Watson, 65, of Venus, has been identified as one of five women killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring.
Cynthia Watson, 65, of Venus, has been identified as one of five women killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring.

Relatives identified a third victim as Ana Piñon Williams, who worked at the bank and was a mother to seven children.

"A daughter, a sister and family to everyone she knew," Piñon Williams' brother-in-law Tim Williams said. "We do not know what was in the mind of the individual who committed this atrocious act, but we do know he was inflicted by the darkness of this world."

Relatives have identified Ana Piñon Williams as one of five women killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring.
Relatives have identified Ana Piñon Williams as one of five women killed in a shooting at a bank in Sebring.

Hoglund said some of the families of the victims asked that their loved ones not be identified, and he is honoring that request. He said the remainder of the victims were also bank employees.

The five women were the only people inside the bank, other than the gunman, when the shooting occurred, authorities said. 

Shooting suspect Zephen Xaver appeared before a Highlands County judge earlier in the day on five counts of premeditated first-degree murder.

Xaver was appointed a public defender during a brief court appearance. He wore a black-and-white striped jail uniform.

Zephen Xaver appears in court to face murder charges after five people were killed in a shooting at a SunTrust branch in Sebring, Florida.
Zephen Xaver appears in court to face murder charges after five people were killed in a shooting at a SunTrust branch in Sebring, Florida.

Hoglund said the 21-year-old former prison guard trainee called police and reported he had fired shots inside the bank before eventually surrendering after a SWAT team entered the building.

"We have no information at this time as to what his motive may have been," Hoglund said.

Florida Department of Corrections records show Xaver was hired Nov. 2 for the trainee post at Avon Park Correctional Institution and resigned Jan. 9. No disciplinary issues were reported.

The state attorney for the region said he intends to prosecute Xaver to the fullest extent of the law.


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