At least five dead after gunman barricades himself in Florida bank

Author
Washington Post,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Thursday, 24 January 2019, 11:39a.m.
Law enforcement officials take cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch after a man fired shots inside. Photo / AP
Law enforcement officials take cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch after a man fired shots inside. Photo / AP

At least five people are dead after a gunman opened fire inside a SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, authorities said.

At around 12:30pm Wednesday (local time), a man contacted police to say he had fired shots inside the bank, according to the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.

When authorities arrived, they established a perimetre and attempted to negotiate with the gunman, the sheriff's office said.

A sheriff's department armored vehicle arrives at the bank. Photo / AP
A sheriff's department armored vehicle arrives at the bank. Photo / AP

"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 sheriff's office said.

The suspect eventually surrendered, they added.

Multiple people were shot, according to Highlands County commissioner Dan Elwell.

Officials have not yet confirmed if there were any deaths or injuries.

The suspect was identified as 21-year-old Zephen Xaber, authorities said at a news conference where they did not take questions.

Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. Photo / AP
Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. Photo / AP

Footage from the scene by WFLA News Channel 8 showed several police cars surrounding the bank, where the entrance was mangled and shattered.

Earlier Wednesday, authorities had directed co-workers and relatives of anyone who was at the bank to go to a nearby hotel.

"ONLY co-workers and family members please," the sheriff's office said.

Representatives for the bank said they could not give out details at this time.

"We are working closely with officials and seeking to take care of everyone affected at our Sebring, Florida branch," SunTrust spokeswoman Sue Mallino said in an email. "We will provide more information as soon as we can."

Marcus Lush Nights

Marcus Lush Nights

8p.m. - 11:59p.m.