SEBRING, Fla. (WFLA) – Sebring SunTrust bank shooting suspect Zephen Xaver bought a gun and ammunition just days prior to the Jan. 23 shooting, according to the sheriff’s office and Sebring police.
The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Xaver purchased a 9mm handgun and ammunition.
Ballistic testing is underway to determine if it was the same gun used to kill five women inside the bank.
Police would not disclose where the gun and ammunition was purchased, but did confirm he did so legally.
As the Sebring community grieves the senseless killing of five of their own, they can’t help but wonder how did this tragedy happen.
“It just shows you never know who’s out there around you,” said Sebring resident Melinda Hoggatt.
8 On Your Side found that Zephen Xaver has a history of psychiatric problems.
According to police reports, in 2014, police in Indiana responded when Xaver had dreams of killing his classmates. Zaver was taken to a behavioral health center.
A month later, according to police documents, police were notified about Xaver’s release, and warned to to be prepared to respond immediately if they recieved any calls, because of his psychiatric issues.
In 2017, Michigan State police recieved a complaint that a girl was receiving messages from Xaver that he was “possibly thinking of suicide by cop and taking hostages,” according to a report.
Despite this paperwork, Xaver was hired by the Florida Department of Corrections as a trainee at the Avon Park Correctional Facility for a brief period of time. The DOC has not answered our questions about why.
Hoggatt said something needs to change.
“They don’t listen until it’s too late. If there is a mental problem, oh you can’t do anything until they hurt somebody,” she said.
“I think there needs to be stricter laws for people who have mental illnesses in order to be able to get a gun. I don’t think they should be able to get a firearm.”