Prosecutors to seek death penalty for suspect in Florida bank shooting

Prosecutors in Florida plan to seek the death penalty for a man suspected of killing five women at a SunTrust bank last month, authorities said.

The suspect, 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, was indicted on five counts of first-degree murder, State Attorney Brian Hass said Friday.

He is set to be arraigned on those charges later this month.

Hass said he reached the “unquestionable conclusion” that he must seek the death penalty for Xaver after analyzing all the evidence.

“As this case moves forward, I will seek the ultimate punishment,” he told reporters in a news conference.

Police said Xaver shot all five people execution-style last month at the Sebring, Florida, bank.

After the shooting, he called 911 and told dispatchers he was in the bank, armed with a handgun and wearing a bulletproof vest, according to an affidavit released by the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.

“I have shot five people,” Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund quoted him as saying.

When SWAT teams burst through the bank’s locked doors, they found the women lying limp on the lobby’s floor. They had apparent gunshot wounds in their backs and heads, authorities said.

Hoglund has called the shooting a “senseless crime.” There is no clear motive, the gunman apparently had no plans to rob the bank and he had no known connection to anyone there, officials said.

Authorities said Xaver had interactions with police officers in Indiana in recent years after they received calls reporting his desire to kill or harm people.

He was hired in November as a correctional officer trainee at Avon Park Correctional Institution and resigned January 9, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Corrections said.

Xaver was ordered held without bond, a Highlands County judge ruled.

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