Neighbors grapple with fate after 4 people die in random Lakeland mass shooting

Polk County

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – As a Tampa Bay man sits in jail accused of killing four people he did not know, neighbors along North Socrum Loop Road are grappling with their close call.

“None of this makes sense,” said Liberty Ulrich.

Ulrich lives across the street from the site of Sunday’s mass shooting.

Courtesy: Liberty Ulrich

His Nest camera captured the sounds of gunfire that broke through the still Sunday morning air at around 4:30.

He said he ran outside when he heard the gunshots and found law enforcement officials were already on the scene.

“I came outside to see what was going on and he told me to get back into the house. There was an active shooter,” he said.

He told 8 On Your Side, he lived in the home where the shooting occurred in the late ’90s.

“To find out it was random and he literally could have just turned one driveway later and it would have been a different outcome – that hits home,” he said.

A few houses down, Miguel Rivera is convinced the suspect knocked on his backdoor at around 3:45 Sunday morning, before going across a vacant lot and murdering an entire family, according to the sheriff’s office.

Miguel Rivera, neighbor

“He didn’t say nothing. He kept banging on it and that’s when I heard the banging and I walked up and put my pajamas, I looked through the blinds and I didn’t see nobody,” Rivera said.

He said he did not open the door. Once he started hearing gunshots, he hid in his garage with his young daughter.

“God bless that family, all that happened to them. I was thinking about mine. What would have happened if I would have opened that door?” he said.

Bryan Riley, 33, of Brandon, is facing four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement official, and attempted murder, among other charges.

Authorities say he showed up at the North Socrum Loop Road on Saturday night saying God told him to stop someone named Amber from committing suicide.

He was sent away and returned home to Brandon, according to Sheriff Grady Judd.

He returned to the Lakeland home in the 4 a.m. hour and killed a 62-year-old woman, a 40-year-old man named Justice Gleason, a 33-year-old woman, and her 3-month-old baby, according to law enforcement.

He also is accused of shooting an 11-year-old girl up to seven times, Sheriff Judd said.

She was listed in critical condition as of Monday afternoon at Tampa General Hospital.

Law enforcement officials do not know why he targeted this family.

The Marine and former sharpshooter faced a Polk County judge Monday morning.

A judge ordered him to be held on no bond.

According to his affidavit, Riley told detectives “God” made him shoot the people inside that home.

“The suspect denied knowing the victims and when asked for a motive for shooting the infant, the suspect replied, ‘…because I’m a sick guy. I want to confess to all of it and be sent to jail,” his affidavit reads.

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