At least five people were shot and killed inside a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, according to officials.
Zephen Xaver, 21, of Sebring, was identified as the suspect, police told ABC News.
The suspect contacted authorities, telling them he fired shots in the bank. Officers then rushed to the scene at around 12:30 p.m. local time, said the Sebring Police Department.
When officials tried to negotiate with Xavier, he wouldn’t leave the bank. A SWAT team was sent in.
Eventually, the suspect surrendered, police told ABC.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted, “Please continue to keep the victims and their families in your prayers.”
BREAKING NEWS | We're working to gather more information and we have a crew headed to the scene now.What we know >> http://bit.ly/2Duitj7
Florida Sen. Rick Scott also stated he was sending his prayers to all involved.
“I just spoke with Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman to get an update on the shooting in Sebring, FL,” he tweeted. “Follow @HighCoSheriff for continued updates. Ann and I are sending prayers to those involved.”
A Facebook account with the name Zephen Xavier of Sebring, Florida, was still up. It’s not clear if it is the same person.
Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell confirmed the shooting, saying there were injuries in the incident, CNN reported.
It’s not clear whether those who were shot are employees or customers.
There was a heavy police presence around the bank, including a SWAT vehicle.
“I know there have been multiple people shot. These are civilians injuries and I’m not going into any more into that,” Elwell told NBC News.
The suspected gunman is reportedly in custody.
Sebring Police posted a statement on Facebook, saying there was an “ongoing law enforcement incident” near the bank.
“US 27 is shut down in both directions from Golfview to Drive to Lakeview Drive due to an ongoing law enforcement incident,” the post said.
JUST IN: Suspected gunman in custody after 'multiple people shot' at SunTrust Bank in Florida.
Police urged “co-workers and family members of anyone who was at the SunTrust branch during today’s incident” to go to the nearby Inn on the Lakes.
A SunTrust spokeswoman told NBC that the bank is working with officials.
“We are working closely with officials and seeking to take care of everyone involved,” the statement said. “We will provide more information as soon as we can.”
US 27 is shut down in both directions from Golfview to Drive to Lakeview Drive due to an ongoing law enforcement…
Earlier reports said the suspect had barricaded himself inside the SunTrust location. Police officials said a man called 911 after 12 p.m. local time, saying the suspect had fired shots, WFLA reported.
“After negotiations to try to get the barricaded subject to exit the bank were not successful, the HCSO SWAT team entered the bank and continued the negotiations. The suspect eventually surrendered to the HCSO SWAT team,” said police.
Elwell also wrote on his Facebook page, “Getting more info now – none of it is good. … Please keep praying,” according to WFLA.
Sebring is located about two hours south of Orlando.
At approximately 12:36 p.m. today, the Sebring Police Department responded to the SunTrust Bank at 1901 US 27 South in…
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office said he spoke with Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman and FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen following the shooting, WFLA reported.
Sen. Rick Scott also sent a tweet that he had also spoken with Blackman, adding, “Ann and I are sending prayers to those involved.”
I just spoke with Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman to get an update on the shooting in Sebring, FL.
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) January 23, 2019
Violent Crime in the US
The number of murders and violent crimes committed in the United States dropped slightly in 2017, according to new crime statistics released in September 2018.
“Crime declined nationwide last year, consistent with our earlier analyses of 2017 data in the nation’s 30 largest cities,” Ames Grawert, senior counsel for the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York, told the Washington Times.
“That’s the good news. The bad news is that even while crime is falling, the number of Americans incarcerated remains near-record highs. Now is the time to address the problem.”
The number of cases of manslaughter and murder dropped 0.7 percent in 2017 from the prior year, the report said.
Rapes rose by 3 percent and aggravated assault rose by 1 percent, but overall violent crimes dropped 0.2 percent, the report added.