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At least 5 killed in Sebring bank shooting; suspect identified and arrested

A gunman opened fire inside a Sebring bank Wednesday afternoon killing five people before he surrendered to a SWAT team after law enforcement surrounds the building, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said.

Zephen Xaver, 21, of Sebring, was arrested after the shooting at the SunTrust bank, located at 1901 US 27 South at Tubbs Road, causing nearby businesses to lock down.

Zephen Xaver, 21, was arrested after allegedly shooting and killing five people at SunTrust bank in Sebring. Mug shot via Highlands County Sheriff’s Office.

Police confirmed at least five people were killed, but it’s unclear if those were bank employees or customers at the time of the incident. The victims identities have not been released.

Police didn’t indicate a motive.

Xaver is facing five premeditated murder charges, according to his booking log.

Xaver was employed as a correctional officer trainee at Avon Park Correctional Institution and resigned two weeks ago, according to Patrick Manderfield, Press Secretary for the Florida Department of Corrections.

Manderfield says Xaver was hired by Avon Park Correctional Institution on Nov. 2, 2018 and resigned on Jan. 1.

Xaver had no discipline while employed with the department, according to Manderfield.

According to the Sebring police, Xaver called 911 around 12:37 p.m. to tell dispatchers that he fired shots inside the SunTrust bank.

Suspect is taken into custody after a SunTrust bank robber that turned into a hostage situation in Sebring Wednesday. CREDIT: Highlands News-Sun Staff

Police officers and deputies responded to the scene and formed a perimeter.

According to Sebring Police, 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 SWAT team.

US 27 is now open after being shut down in both directions from Hammock Road to Lakeview Drive for several hours.

Deputies say co-workers and family members of anyone who was at the SunTrust branch during the incident should go to Inn on the Lakes.

Police plan to provide more information in a press conference Thursday morning at 11 a.m.

Trust WINK News to provide more details when it becomes available. 

Reporter:Taylor Petras
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