Florida Bank Shooting Brings Year Total to 19

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The execution style murder of five women inside Sebring SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, brings the total of Mass Shootings for 2019 to nineteen as authorities still work to determine a motive in the senseless killings.

Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund and Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman addressed media explaining the timeline and the limited investigation.

"We have no known connections to any of the victims at this time," Hoglund said. "Aside from perhaps driving by and seeing it was a bank, we have no known motives that he targeted this bank for any particular reason," American Banker reported.


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The victims have been identified as bank customer Cynthia Lee Watson, 65, SunTrust bank employee, Marisol Lopez, 55, Ana Pinon-Williams, 38 and a mother of seven children. The families of the two others had requested their identities not be revealed, citing Marsy's Law a victim's right law passed in Florida, though some media have revealed all five victims.

The shooter has been identified as Zaphen Xaver, 21, a local resident, who they say entered the bank around noon, Wednesday, and ordered the four female bank employees to the ground. The fifth female was the only customer inside the bank at the time the hostage situation began.

A fifth bank employee, has been identified, as being in the bank's break room, when the shooting began. They escaped the building through a back entrance and called 911 as they escaped.


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A local resident, Victor Sparks, also called 911 after he arrived at the bank attempting to make a deposit, and found the doors locked. He has told media he peered inside the bank and saw the women on the ground and heard shots before he fled.

The gunman allegedly called 911 himself, at approximately 12:30PM, and explained he had fired shots inside the bank. He gave no indication at the time, if the hostages were dead or alive. Police authorities have indicated they believed the employees where alive at the time the negotiation began.

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When the gunman refused to cooperate, Sebring SWAT team rammed the front entrance with a bullet proof tactical vehicle.


Unfortunately, even with the fast response time, the gunman had entered the bank with the intent of committing a mass murder and not robbing the bank and carried through on his plan.

"This event will pass, but unfortunately it will never be forgotten. It is now part of our history," Sebring Mayor John Shoop said at Thursday morning's press conference. "We will all grieve in our own way. We need you — everyone out there — to hug your family, your friends, your coworkers, anywhere you go, just to give them peace of mind," American Banker reported.

Surveillance tapes have not been released.


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This is a developing story.

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