Florida bank shooter obsessed with death


Police and ambulance at SunBankImage copyright

Image caption

Police responded after receiving a call from a man saying: “I’ve shot five people”

A man accused of shooting dead five people at a Florida bank has long been fascinated with death and guns, a woman identifying herself as his former girlfriend has said.

Zephen Xaver “for some reason always hated people and wanted everybody to die,” Alex Gerlach told WSBT-TV.

On Wednesday, Mr Xaver called police from the Sun Trust bank in the Sebring town to tell them about the shooting.

The 21-year-old surrendered after police stormed the bank, officials say.

The motive for the shooting by the former prison guard trainee is being investigated.

Speaking on Thursday, Ms Gerlach said that nobody had taken seriously previous threats made by her former boyfriend.

“He got kicked out of school for having a dream that he killed everybody in his class, and he’s been threatening this for so long, and he’s been having dreams about it and everything,” Ms Gerlach told WSBT-TV.

“Every single person I’ve told has not taken it seriously, and it’s very unfortunate that it had to come to this,” she added.

Image copyright

Image caption

Zephen Xaver barricaded himself in the bank and then began shooting, police say

She was also quoted by the Washington Post as saying that last week Mr Xaver told her he had bought a gun.

But she added that “no-one thought anything of it” because he had always liked guns.

What is known about Wednesday’s shooting?

Police say officers responded after a man called them from inside the bank and said: “I have shot five people”.

The suspect, Mr Xaver, had barricaded himself in the branch and forced people to lie on the floor before he began shooting, they added.

He later surrendered.

The incident took place just after 12:30 (17:30 GMT) in Sebring, about 80 miles (130km) south of Orlando. Police say they were the only five people in the bank at the time.

“This horrific incident shocks and angers me more than anything I have encountered in my career,” said local sheriff Paul Blackman.

SunTrust CEO Bill Rogers said in a statement the company was “deeply saddened by the tragic shooting”.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said the suspect is “an individual who needs to face very swift and exacting justice”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.