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Cops Say SunTrust Bank Mass Shooting that Left 5 Women Dead Was ‘Random Act’; 2 Victims ID’d


Law enforcement officials in Sebring, Florida held a press conference Thursday morning to reveal details they have learned about the shooting that took place in a SunTrust Bank location on Wednesday. The 21-year-old suspect, Zephen Xaver, was formally charged this morning at his first court appearance.

Police Chief Karl Hoglund told those in attendance at the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office that no motive for the attack has been ascertained, stating, “We believe it was a random act.”

Hoglund said that Xaver himself called 911 after the shooting, remaining on the phone with dispatchers after firing inside the bank branch, telling them that he killed five people. Officers then responded and apprehended him.

The police chief also identified two of the five victims. One was bank customer 65-year-old Cynthia Watson of Venus, Fla., and the other was SunTrust employee Marisol Lopez, 65. Lopez was a Lake Placid, Fla. resident.

Additional details about the victims have not yet been made available.

The three other women who were killed were not identified, as family members requested that their names not be shared with the public. SunTrust Bank representatives were in attendance for the press conference.

The press conference took place the same morning that Xaver had his first court appearance before the 10th Judicial Circuit Court. Xaver technically was not in the room before Judge Anthony Ritenour, as he conducted the appearance through a monitor from the Highlands County Jail. Judge Ritenour ordered that Xaver be held without bail, and appointed a public defender to represent him.

Xaver is now facing five counts of murder in the first degree.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Hoglund said Wednesday that the mass shooting was the doing of “a senseless criminal” who committed “a senseless crime.”

Xaver allegedly locked himself inside the bank and started shooting. Xaver surrendered when a SWAT team entered the building. The shooting reportedly began around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

[Image via Highlands County Sheriff’s Office]

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