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Conference begins at the 5:55 mark.

During a brief and heart-wrenching news conference this morning in Highlands County, Florida, officials released all the available information about yesterday’s SunTrust bank shooting. The video is not easy to watch.

The shooter “knowingly and intentionally took the lives of five of our fellow community members,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund reported, barely restraining tears. “Our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, and our co-workers. Perhaps most unfortunate is that now, we refer to them as victims of a senseless crime.”

Three of the victims’ families had requested that the names not be released; the other two requested that they be shared. Those two victims were Cynthia Watson, a customer of the bank, and Marisol Lopez, an employee.

“The incident began yesterday at 12:30,” Chief Hoglund said, “when 21-year-old Zephen Allen Xaver entered the SunTrust bank with a gun. He immediately contacted bank employees and a bank customer and overtook the bank by force. He then shot everyone in the bank. After shooting them, he called 9-1-1. This occurred at approximately 12:36. He told dispatchers that he had killed five people in the bank. The wherewithal and the thoughts and the acts of the dispatchers were to maintain contact with him until responding officers could arrive.”

Units from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, Hoglund reported, arrived at 12:40, and officers from the police department arrived at 12:42.

“At 12:44, a SWAT callout was done in hope that officers could assume tactical responsibility of the scene,” Chief Hoglund continued. “During crisis negotiations, it appeared he was not going to allow officers of my agency and the sheriff’s office access to the victims in the bank. At that action, I requested the sheriff’s office SWAT team make a tactical entry into the bank. This was accomplished at 1:54 p.m. […] Unfortunately, all of the victims had succumbed to their injuries inside the bank.

“[The shooter] has formally been charged with five counts of murder in the first degree. I cannot state how much I appreciate the assistance of our local partners, including the Sheriff’s Office, local law enforcement, the FBI, and the coordination and cooperation of SunTrust personnel, staff and leadership.”

Chief Hoglund also stated that SunTrust leaders were present in Sebring spending time with employees and families and were cooperating full. Several other statements were made before Hoglund returned to the lectern and invited a brief Q&A.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that the state was paying for “grief counseling, loss of life expenses, and other things [the families] shouldn’t even have to think about.”

State attorney Brian Haas said: “As state attorney, it is my responsibility to prosecute this case, and that we will do. We have two responsibilities: To build the best case possible, to ensure prosecution that ends in a successful result while seeking everything we can, the maximum allowed by law. The second priority is to be there for the families of the victims. They are hurting today in an unbelievable way, and we want to be there for them to make sure that the terrible thing they’ve been through, that this next step, the criminal justice process, goes as smoothly as possible. […] This community is hurting unbelivably. Any community that would have a case like this happen with five murders would be so difficult, but a community the size of Sebring, it’s just unbelievable. But if there’s a place that can make it through this, it’s Sebring and Highlands county.”

During the Q&A, Chief Hoglund said that at this time, the shooting is believed to have been a random violent act:

“We have no information at this time as to [the shooter’s] true motive. We believe it was a random act. We don’t believe anyone was specifically targeted. […] We have no information as to any bank robbery. We have no known connections between the suspect and the victims at this time.”

Finally, Hoglund also stated that all five of the victims killed were women, and that surveillance video of the incident has been obtained and reviewed by investigators.

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    • I think we have a right to be informed as to who he is, his motivation, and other details about the man. It was part of the press conference. Media and websites are going to mention his name initially. While he is obviously seeking attention of some sort, I am not sure how media can report on the issue without ever mentioning his name, his hometown, interviewing his parents, friends, coworkers, teachers, coaches, spouses, etc. We live in an information age, my friend. News reporters mentioning his name are on countless websites across the country. Google returns over a half million hits on his name. Twitter has thousands of mentions. You blame TTAG for giving him attention. Brilliant.

      • Just because other media sources name him doesnt mean TTAG has use his real name as well. Name the town, the victims, the friends/family if they so wish, but dont name the shooter. Refer to the shooter as simply “the shooter”, “the gunman”, “the pathetic incel”, whatever. Deny him the satisfaction of recognition. He gets nothing except a cell where he’s locked away and forgotten.

        • This Is Sparta (I mean Florida).
          With 5 counts of 1st Degree he is likely to get an IV lethal cocktail, unless he chooses Old Sparky. I doubt he’ll be getting too many white bread bologna and Kraftcheese sandwiches on the taxpayer tab.

      • I think the initial report should identify the person. Following reports should leave out his picture and name. We need to know who he is and what he looks like, but we don’t need to treat him like a celebrity.

        The media likes to treat these people like they want to be treated because they want kids to be inspired. They know they are not supposed to glorify the murderer yet they do the opposite. They want people to be able to put together a compilation with music for kids to watch like it’s some kind of ISIS recruiting video. They want kids to have idols to model themselves after.

        • If the shooter isn’t at large, why do you need to know anything about them other than to satisfy curiosity?

          • To avoid Orwellian reporting that Big Brother apprehended an enemy of the people, followed by the presentation of an unnamed and hooded person to be publicly hated and executed, only to find the person was really a political dissident.

      • Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right.

        Just refer to him as Some Asshole 2019 #1

    • I am fine with a simple article stating the facts of what happened….its the (5) articles per day, made for TV movies, book promotions, etc that are my problem.

      • It’s cnn and other tv stations going 24/7 non stop for days about a shooting. That’s what encourages more to seek the “fame”

        • you’re right. it’s an absolute documented fact. these freaks are extreme narcissists seeking fame. it was published in american behavioral scientist, 2017.

  1. Growing up in the 1970s I know every bank had an armed guard present inside. But now very few banks have armed guards.

    There is evil in the world people wanted deny it. But it’s true there is evil whether or not you believe in the devil.

    I CCW everywhere I go. Unless it’s a military base.

      • used to carry more on a military base than elsewhere…of course I was empowered to do so…but always carried more than I was issued….when you’re entrusted with protecting the most lethal type of weapons…it pays to be wary….

    • I don’t think small banks, especially in small towns, hire guards. That doesn’t mean they can’t allow employees to be armed…

    • Insurance. It’s where the gun grabbers get their ideas on forcing gun owners or carriers to ‘get insured’. Insurance will pay out fairly easily if a bank is robbed- hell, FDIC alone takes care of a lot of that- but if you want to have armed guards your premiums are insane. From an insurance and business perspective, it makes sense. Robberies are rare but a quintuple murder is much more so. And the victims cannot hold the bank responsible for the gunman, but they could hold the guard responsible if he did something wrong (or even just did something).

      This is why ‘no guns’ signs should not have force of law.

      • In TN, there was a law passed where businesses that want a gun free zone can be sued if that gun free zone prevents someone from defending themselves.

    • guards are kind of obvious…just having one person discreetly armed could have made a difference….

      • used to make bank runs when I worked for the army….local cops balked at us carrying a shotgun into the bank…in the end, the only robbery we ever had involved somebody walking up to a patrol car and wacking the driver over the head…although that reeked of an inside job..not sure if anyone was ever prosecuted by the FBI…but that guy was gone pretty quickly….

  2. So the SWAT team sat on their hands FOR AN HOUR, once again…not unlike the Florida school shooting. Oops, I forgot…”officer safety” trumps doing the job that you are paid to do…

    • Their job isnt to save you, they’re not superheros. They dont have a duty to protect. Their job description is to enforce laws and apprehend suspects, that’s it. In this case they did their job.

      No one is going to save you but you.

      • So first they should take the “serve and protect” off their F’n cop car and replace it with “20 years of hassling you with speeding tickets and then 80% pension for life”

    • Maybe they were able to see into the bank and verify the claims he made. It would be very odd to see an empty bank with one “man” inside holding a gun as he stands around. They wouldn’t have been in a hurry to raid the bank.

      That being said, the police forces in America are no French response team even when they dress like one. Maybe the French need to come to the U.S. and teach Americans how not to be scared…

    • And next week if they storm a bank immediately and it results in multiple bystander casualties because the robbers started shooting can we hold ANARCHYST responsible? Also, did you know that it sometimes takes time to break into a building specifically constructed to resist breaking in? Or do you want every cop around carrying breeching explosives?

      Or do you only have to decide in hindsight?

    • They were following established protocol.

      Wait a while as you organize several million dollars cash and a plane ride to Cuba.

      I think Cuba should be the muderer’s destination. Particularly Guantanamo Bay where he can enjoy watersports and electrifying night life.

    • Why on earth did the SWAT team take him prisoner ???? They should have made him lie down next to his victim and blown his brains out. Never get convicted for that sort of retribution.

  3. Please carry ladies. Get your wives to carry men. Ruger LCP2 with sky blue houge grip, viridian laser, Precision One ammo, and pocket holster for my lady when she’s out with our daughters.

    • if i’m carrying a lady (obvs not my wife), and she’s carrying another man, who’s going to cut the cheese? or change the light bulb?

  4. I do not like the tone of this article. Is anybody going to tell us when those people died? This sounds like the Pulse nightclub shit, when people took hours to bleed out while cops maintained their positions outside the door. That was an hour and 10 minutes cops played footsie with a madman while people were (or might have been) dying. I am thinking we may need to just abolish all cops, take care of our own business as we did 200 years ago.

    • “Abolish cops.” You’re kidding right? Your local 7-11 is robbed. You’re going to leave your house. Investigate, interview witnesses and process the scene. Who are you going to submit the evidence to? The crime labs went away when you abolished cops. Homicide? Get ready to take weeks, or months off from your job while you work the case. You know, like they did it 200 years ago.

      • The sheriff department is different than the police department. Detectives are not like patrol cops. Crime labs are separate entities. We even have private investigators. A private policing force is different than a public policing force.

        • “The sheriff department is different than the police department.”
          – Not really, despite what comedy movies and your local sovereign citizen nut would like you to believe. Same standards, same training, same equipment in most jurisdictions. One wears tan. Yippe.

          “Detectives are not like patrol cops.”
          – In the sense that many work 9-5 and don’t respond to 911 calls… sure. Otherwise they are patrol cops in a different assignment. The portrayal of police in media is not accurate.

          “Crime labs are separate entities.”
          -Sometimes yes, sometimes not.

          “We even have private investigators. A private policing force is different than a public policing force.”
          -Yeah, makes you wonder why we went from one to another. Maybe it had something to do with how private policing forces tended to work for whomever paid them the most. Remember the homstead strike? Yeah. Public police aren’t perfect but you’re insane or ignorant of history if you think a private force can be both capable and happy to serve the public interest when they are not publicly paid.

        • A private police force will turn tyrannical faster then you can say black lies matter. There’s a place in this country for private investigators and private security. But actual policing done by a private entity is not advisable.

    • I think he went to the bank, got all the women together, executed them with shots to the head, then a few minutes later called the cops to start his plan for infamy.

      The murderer is getting what he wants.

    • He made them lie down on the floor and shot each one in the head.

      Response time would not have helped.

    • We are all responsible to protect ourselves, our family, and our neighbors.

      “Cop” is an abbreviation of constable on patrol. We are supposed to provide for our own defense and notify the constable of the event to investigate, gather evidence, and, if necessary, arrest the perpetrator(s), and provide the Prosecutor with the evidence.

      It is not the responsibility of the cops to protect any particular individuals. It is illogical to expect them to be able to protect you from evil.

      Somewhere along the way from 1776 to today, we have lost knowledge of the responsibility for self-defense.

      • Mad Max,

        It is not the responsibility of the cops to protect any particular individuals. It is illogical to expect them to be able to protect you from evil.

        And that would be totally fine as long as said cops would not enforce laws that disarm good people who are simply going about their business without any malicious intent.

  5. Wow, it took an hour for the swat team to enter. I sort of understand, police dont want to get shot either, but this means even if the police have fast response times to the scene, you can still bleed out well before they get to you (Parkland anyone?).
    If only someone was carrying, they not only would have stopped the attack from progressing, but greatly increase the survival chance of the wounded, especially if the CCW-carrier also carried an ankle-worn trauma kit.
    It’s a damn shame.

    • The police rarely stop a crime in progress. The vast majority of the time the police are merely historians recording the event after it happened.

      • Im seeing that more and more now.
        I live in Parkland (less that 2 minutes away from the Stoman Douglas High School) and, while i found it detestable, I understood why the Parkland police took so long to enter. Parkland is very affluent and considered to be an extremely quiet and safe suburb. The most nefarious criminals the police had to deal with were people speeding 5 miles per hour over Holmberg rd.’s speed limit. They were mentally (and possibly tactically) underprepared for violence at the level of a school shooting.
        But as you said, this is a trend everywhere. This country needs more CCW-carriers. That’s the best solution.

        Here’s something fun you can do: If anyone in the medical field ever asks “how could the solution to gun violence be more guns?” remind them that the treatment for Nephrogenic Diabetes Insipidus (a disease where the pt unrinates excessively) is Hydrochlorothiazide and Amiloride, both of which are diuretics (medications that make you pee more). Point being that sometimes the answer to life’s problems is (at first) counterintuitive.

  6. Like all mass shooters, he foreshadowed his intention in advance.

    An ex-girlfriend said, “Alex Gerlach told WSBT-TV in Indiana she had an on-and-off relationship with Xaver for two years, and had kept in contact every few months since. She said he often talked about wanting to hurt people.

    “I never understood where it started,” she told the station. “For some reason (he) always hated people and wanted everyone to die.”

    She said he bought a gun last week, but that she and others had shrugged it off because he alway liked guns.

    “Every single person I’ve told has not taken it seriously, and it’s very unfortunate that it had to come to this,” Gerlach said.”

      • Doesn’t Indiana and Florida have red flag laws already? Didn’t Florida just pass a bunch of laws to stop people like him from doing it again in Florida?

        He waited until he was old enough to buy a gun and he went where there was no guns to stop him. He attacked a bunch of women who probably didn’t try to resist or escape. The government didn’t pre-crime him with their fancy gun control.

        I guess the Republicans will now try to raise the age limit to 25. Didn’t Trump say we should raise it to such an age?

      • nobody saw this coming….it’s foolish to rely on that…just be prepared to protect yourself and hope for the best…

  7. So in other words the police and SWAT team cowered in the parking lot for over an hour while they waited for the victims to bleed to death.

  8. Police can’t win. A caller tells you he shot some people and you wait to make entry because there’s no active shooter, but an hour later you find 5 dead people on the floor and everyone says you’re foolish and chickenshit.

    Next week, you get another call, same bit. “I’ve shot 5 people,” and again there’s no active shooter. You make tactical entry as soon as you can muster 6 officers and a ballistic shield. Inside you find a teenager wearing a headset and playing Fortnite. Now you’re foolish, over-militarized jackbooted thugs.

    I’ve got no problem waiting for more details on this case.

  9. What’s with all the crying at these things? Sorry but if it’s not somebody I personally know I really don’t care any further than looking at is as a case study for my own information. Locals, neighbors, even family or friends who I haven’t spoken too or seen in like 10-15 years. I’m not going to be crying for strangers or for some clownish abstract like “society at large.” Makes the whole thing seem very patronizing, disingenuous and reeks of social engineering. People I don’t know die every minute of everyday in any number of ways. To feign concern over their deaths I’d be a blubbering, useless heap 24/7 unable to hold a job. At that point I may as well just become a Democrat.

      • We are taught to be emotionless to death in the military… In general, men are taught to be logical instead of emotional even during bad times. I guess you get used to it. Crying isn’t likely the first thing you do, it’s probably going to be more about anger. Once you get old though…

        • I was in the military and I have caused death. I can still feel sorry for folks that are victims like those in the bank.

        • Having been there and done that as well, the military doesn’t teach you to be “emotionless.” It’s about teaching you to carry on the mission as others are being killed. There’s nothing wrong with expressing emotion in the deaths of others. Having been the many military funerals there is plenty of emotion. You seem like the guys who acted all hardcore stateside then turned chickenshit overseas.

    • The grief I understand. What I don’t understand is the absence of anger at the perpetrator. If my wife were one of the victims, I would want him sentenced to prison where poor food, poor medical care and frequent brutality would be his lot with his own death as the only thing to look forward to.

  10. In Thailand, especially, northern Thailand, every bank has an armed guard. The guard I always saw, had his hand resting on his gun at all times.

    • Strata
      The minimum wage in Thailand went up to 330 Baht or $10.50 USD for 45 hour week last September. Easy to employ at that cost.

      When I was in north Thailand last year from what I could see and several guards I spoke to their guns are usually unloaded with a magazine to load if needed. The police and army did carry condition 3 but they are for civil unrest more than crime.

  11. Hmmm…he calls you and TELLS you he shot several people?!? Were there teller’s to tell the tail? This stinks😩 The last time I went into a bank lobbby(cashing an auction check on the Northside of Chiraq) “no gun” signs emblazoned the doors. No guard in sight-or metal detector.

  12. Why aren’t these mass shooters killing themselves anymore?
    They used to always kill themselves when the cops closed in (or so we were told).
    Now they are hanging around for a trial.

    • I guess these people realize they will get treated nicely in prison, they will get to absorb the attention and they are too cowardly to kill themselves. We might be in a transitional phase, as in, it’s now normalized in the white community to behave this way. America might see an increase of white male mass murderers because they think it won’t be all that bad continuing to live a lonely shitty life in an actual prison rather than living with their mothers until she dies.

      You know how some people have a death wish but don’t want to kill themselves or do anything bad, so they join the military without any concerns of their death?

      • Life in prison is not much different that life in mom’s basement or back room. Don’t have to work, free meals, play games all day, play with yourself all night. It’s a good life for them. I don’t think it’s whitees only, I think a lot of other races can have the same mindset.

      • Life in prison is miserable unless you are the meanest, toughest SOB in the place. The guards don’t run the prison. There aren’t enough of them. The prisoners run it. The guards are content as long as there are no riots and the brutality is out of sight. A loser like this bank murderer will be every tough guy’s bitch until he dies of it.

        • wonder if this was an impulsive act…or something pre=planned…were all the bank employees female?

        • Depends on the prison. He is also white, which means the white gang in prison will take care of him if they feel he is worthy. He can also stay in his cell alone. Prison isn’t always some horrible place if you don’t belong or partake in gang stuff. If you have family sending you money it could make your life easy.

      • You know how some people have a death wish but don’t want to kill themselves or do anything bad, so they join the military without any concerns of their death?</blockquote

        Well… look at that. Why am I not surprised? He didn't make it through, so he went to plan B, which was initially plan A.

        • And they’re not going to hear back from the Army while an investigation is ongoing. If the reason he was discharged has nothing to do with the case, (maybe, maybe not) this TV station may never hear why as it may be protected by the privacy act. (Perp is still alive)

    • I think there have always been two basic types of mass killer. There are those who want to die and take a bunch of people with them and those who just want to kill a bunch of folks. Some of the latter want fame.

      If he wanted to get away he had multiple options. If he wanted to die he had multiple options. He might have figured that the cops would kill him or that, failing a death caused by the police the state will execute him.

      It’s also possible he’s like Anders Breivik in that he wants a crime that’s horrific enough to draw attention to some “manifesto” he plans on informing us all of.

  13. Wait. I’m sure will find out that the killer has schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder…Next up, pre-mental health screenings before your able to exercise your 2nd amendment rights in Florida…

  14. I work in a bank and have a CCW license, unfortunately my employer has a “no weapons in the workplace” policy, so I cannot carry while working without risking losing my job. That’s the sad reality for many people in my position. I would love to be able to protect myself with more than my fists, but unfortunately, my employer doesn’t allow me that right.

    • an old firearms instructor once told me you can always get another job…you can’t get another life…plenty of ways to carry discreetly….

  15. For crystal clear cases like these, bring out the guillotine and execute immediately upon conviction.


      • Nah. Retribution is not for us. But I want it made plain that fame and 3 hots and a cot aren’t going to happen. Spree killers get put to death instantly, regardless of their hurt feelings and maladies. These people make a choice to do this horrible thing, and there is no doubt in my mind part of that choice is because there is no punishment; just a kind of immortality.

    • He had a messed up family and was apparently like the other gun free zone killers.

      He went to a mental institution, was likely put on drugs, was suicidal and homicidal, fantasized about school shootings, government was warned about his future intentions, he was waiting until he got old enough to buy a gun and it looks like he planned the attack.

      He is what I consider the stereotypical profile of a “school shooter.” I don’t understand why people can’t see the obvious. How many more people like this have to commit mass murder before we understand who they are?

    • too many “wonder if’s”….just be ready….it’s a bank for cripes sake!…you should expect to be put in harms way periodically…

  16. Sadly, this guy and one at Parkland could be the same person. As could the creep that killed the parents and kidnapped the kid in Wisconsin. And other similar creeps. There is a profile, just as there is a profile of the Islamic terrorist. And it seems they always indicate their intention to someone long before they commit the crime. I am not an advocate of Swatting, or crazy ex-girlfriends taking revenge on a guy through a red flag rule, but somehow we as a society need to get a handle on these particular patterns of crazy, and have a solution for the nuts. My solution is to bring back the old style mental hospital, just minus abuse of the patients. Lock them up before they do harm to others. And also for the law to allow employees to carry concealed at work, overruling the insurance companies in favor of public interest. I have not seen an armed guard in a bank since I was a little kid. I know, wishful thinking.

    • He was from Indiana before he recently moved to Florida. Both those states have gun confiscation orders. Apparently the magical laws didn’t work.

      In California, a man was served an order of the court to turn in his guns after he got in trouble for hitting a coworker. It was ordered he cannot exercise his 2nd Amendment for 3 years. A few months later he decided to acquire some handguns for a particular mission. He went on a hunt with unregistered guns he wasn’t supposed to have. He found his prey, shot her dead, went home, then eventually killed himself. That gun violence restraining order did not work, it lead to the man going crazy enough he decided to attack the police, in a very strict gun control state, with guns he wasn’t supposed to have.

  17. I’m probably not alone with saying this as I’m sure in this forum, there’s plenty of others that do the same thing, but the bank is one place I make sure I maintain a high degree of awareness of who’s in the bank when I go in and who comes in while I’m there. I always carry anyway but that is one place where I really make sure of my surroundings. If something goes down, I’ve got the attitude that I’m winning. I’m not leaving in a body bag. Of the four banks I have banked in in my area, all have been robbed. The closest one to me and where I bank at and most resent resulted in the robber getting shot by a customer.

  18. The headlines should begin with ” Another Gun Free Zone Mass Killing”. Gun free zones are safe zones. Sarc

    • A bank in Florida is not a GFZ. Concealed carry is not prohibited there. If the bank happens to have a “No Beretta” sign on the door it doesn’t mean squat unless you reveal your EDC and they ask you to leave. THEN it becomes armed trespass if you refuse to leave.

  19. False Flag…Don’t believe this Farce for one second!

    Another laughable FBI staged Hoax. ( Where no one actually gets Hurt )

    Where the Bleep are the videos FBI, if there was a “Real” shooting?

    Once again, No: Clear, Time Stamped, HD, uninterrupted, in real speed videos, showing the incident from start to finish…WHY?

    Also, once again and a little too “Conveniently” …”A lone white guy mass murderer”, this helps perpetuate the LIE, that: White, Conservative Christians, are the, “Number One Domestic Terror Threat in the United States.

    “Funny”, how you almost never hear a word from the lame stream about the scores of Murders every week in minority neighborhoods in “Gun Free” Cities ( Which should tell you they are not concerned about Actual “Gun Violence” )

    This “Shooting” was staged for several reason’s:

    1. To Try and get passage of ‘HR 4918 Domestic Terror Prevention Bill’, which allows the FBI and SPLC. to Hunt: White, Conservative Christians, as “The Number One Domestic Terror Threat” in the United States”.

    2. To Try and get passage of Dianne Feinstein’s latest ‘Assault Weapons Ban Bill of 2019’!

    3. To Try and get passage of Marco Rubios recently proposed S.9 so-called “Red Flag” Bill

    4. To Try and get passage of Gabrielle Giffords recently proposed House of Representatives Back Ground Check Bill.

    Untill the American people start standing up and calling these staged farces into question, fully expect more eroding Anti-Second Amendment legislation to be passed.The Second Amendment community in particular, has to Stop treating these alleged “Shootings” automatically as “Real”.

    The odds don’t exist, out of all historical proportion to our Countries past history since 2011 ( Tucson ), for these mass “shootings” to keep happening!

    • You are completely insane.

      I bet you believe in the Flat Earth and the moon landings were faked by hollywood.

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