At least 5 dead after shooting inside Sebring bank

Suspect identified as former corrections officer trainee Zephen Xaver

By Christian De La Rosa - Reporter, Jeff Tavss - Executive Producer

SEBRING, Fla. - At least five people were killed after a man opened fire inside a Sebring bank.

Sebring police confirmed the 21-year-old suspect entered the SunTrust bank location in Highlands County before firing his weapon.

"We have at least five victims, people who were senselessly murdered as a result of his act," Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund.

Hoglund said Sebring resident Zephen Xaver called 911 about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, claiming he had fired shots inside the bank.

Authorties attempted to negotiate with Xaver, but they proved unsuccesful. After SWAT teams entered the bank, Xaver surrendered.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Xaver was hired as a correctional officer trainee in November, but he resigned Jan. 9. Xaver had no discipline problems while he was employed, the department said.

Sharon Spillane, Xaver's next door neighbor, was shocked when she heard he had been arrested.

"He's just a normal, quiet, polite 21-year-old, and this just has me shocked," Spillane told Local 10 News.

Gov. Ron DeSantis promised his full support and justice for the victims.

"This is a terrible day for Sebring, Highlands County and for the state of Florida," he said.

Highlands News-Sun Photo

Sebring is about 170 miles northwest of Miami.

SunTrust released a statement after the events at its Sebring branch.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting at our Sebring, Florida branch this afternoon," Bill Rogers, SunTrust Chairman and CEO, 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."

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