Florida shooting: At least five dead in 'hostage situation' at bank, police say

Clark Mindock, Sarah Harvard

A gunman killed five people in a bank in central Florida, before calling police himself and eventually surrendering, according to authorities.

The shooting took place at a SunTrust Bank branch in Sebring, Florida, at about 12.30pm local time, Police Chief Karl Hoglund said at a news conference.

The 21-year-old suspect, identified as Zephen Xaver, called police and said he had fired shots inside the bank, according to authorities.

After negotiators failed to convince the suspect to leave the bank, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office SWAT team entered the building and continued to talk to him, police said.

He eventually surrendered and is in custody. Police did not offer any details about a possible motive.

"This is a terrible day for Sebring, Highlands County and for the state of Florida," Governor Ron DeSantis said in a statement following the shooting.


The front of the bank seems to have been damaged with doors ripped off their hinges, WFTS reported.

After the suspect was taken into custody, police said there was no longer any danger to people in the surrounding area. However, local businesses close to the bank and two nearby schools were instructed to be put on conditional lockdown.

"We are working closely with officials and seeking to take care of everyone affected," SunTrust's Chief Communications Officer Sue Mallino told CNN. "We will provide more information as soon as we can."

Sebring is in central Florida. It is located about two hours south of Orlando.