5 killed when gunman takes hostages | News Coverage from USA

5 killed when gunman takes hostages

Five people were “senselessly murdered’ Wednesday after a gunman took hostages in a Florida bank, forced them to the floor and began shooting, authorities said.

Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman and other law enforcement officials declined to elaborate on the  shooting around noon at the SunTrust bank in Sebring, Florida, about 94 miles southeast of Tampa.

The suspect was identified by the sheriff’s office as Zephen Xaver, 21, a Sebring resident.

The gunman apparently entered and locked the bank, then had customers fall to the floor.

The county SWAT team was sent in after the gunman, who had barricaded himself inside, refused to negotiate with officers.

After the SWAT team burst inside, the gunman finally surrendered, according to Blackman.

“it’s a tragic day for our community,” Sebring police chief Karl Hoglund said.

Police were alerted by a man identified as Victor Sparks who found the bank locked when he tried to go in to make a deposit. Peering inside, Sparks told the Highlands News-Sun, he saw people on the floor and someone walking among them. He told the newspaper he heard a big bang as he dashed off to call 911.

Contributing: Florida Today

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