5 killed inside Sebring bank, suspected gunman arrested

Highlands County

At least five people are dead after a gunman walked into a central Florida bank and opened fire on Wednesday afternoon, authorities say.

Sebring police officials say 21-year-old Zephen Xaver called 911 around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and reported that he had fired shots inside the SunTrust Bank on US-27 South in Sebring. 

Xaver is a former correctional officer trainee at the Avon Park Correctional Institution. He worked there for less than two months. 

The Sebring police chief confirmed the fatalities at a Wednesday evening press conference.

“This has been a tragic day for our community. We’ve suffered a significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund said.

Sebring police officers and Highlands County deputies responded to the scene after the call came in and established a perimeter around the bank. Our news helicopter flying over the scene saw a massive law enforcement presence as police tried to negotiate with the man barricaded inside.

Police were unsuccessful at first but say the man eventually surrendered after the Highlands County SWAT team went into the bank and continued to negotiate.

“At first [SWAT] hooked some cables up to it [bank door], tried to rip the doors off. The door handles came right off. Then they just drove the SWAT machine right through the door,” said witness Stefan Roehrig.

Roehrig saw police take Xaver out of the bank in handcuffs and recorded cell phone video.  

“The suspect, they slammed him pretty good I think and brought him out here,” he said.

“He was young, very young.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to Highlands County to provide an update alongside law enforcement Wednesday evening.

“Obviously this is an individual that needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” he said of Xaver.

None of the shooting victims have been identified yet. Families are still being notified.

“We ask that you please keep them in your prayers, keep them in your thoughts,” Chief Hoglund said. “Help Sebring and our community stay strong.”

The sheriff’s office asked co-workers and family members of anyone who was inside the bank during the incident should go to the Inn on the Lakes on Gulfview Road.

Bill Rogers, SunTrust CEO and Chairman, issued the following statement:

We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting at our Sebring, Florida branch this afternoon. We are working with law enforcement officials and dedicating ourselves to supporting the people and families impacted by this horrible and senseless tragedy. Our entire team mourns this terrible loss.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Videos

Coronavirus cases in Florida surge past 6,300

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coronavirus cases in Florida surge past 6,300"

Tampa Bay restaurants adjust to “survive” during coronavirus pandemic

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Bay restaurants adjust to “survive” during coronavirus pandemic"

Coronavirus; More than 5,000 classes at USF transition to online

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coronavirus; More than 5,000 classes at USF transition to online"

Let's boogie! Local dance studio offers FREE virtual lessons during coronavirus

Thumbnail for the video titled "Let's boogie! Local dance studio offers FREE virtual lessons during coronavirus"

Tuesday Midday Weather Update

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tuesday Midday Weather Update"

Attorneys call arrest of Tampa megachurch pastor after packed Sunday services "unconstitutional"

Thumbnail for the video titled "Attorneys call arrest of Tampa megachurch pastor after packed Sunday services "unconstitutional""

St. Petersburg parks open, for now

Thumbnail for the video titled "St. Petersburg parks open, for now"

Tampa Bay area workers continue to be unable to file for unemployment benefits through state

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Bay area workers continue to be unable to file for unemployment benefits through state"

Sarasota County reports cases of COVID-19 at senior care facilities

Thumbnail for the video titled "Sarasota County reports cases of COVID-19 at senior care facilities"

Why are Floridians waiting up to 11 days for COVID-19 test results?

Thumbnail for the video titled "Why are Floridians waiting up to 11 days for COVID-19 test results?"
More Local News

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss