Sebring shooting suspect appears before judge, as families grieve

The suspect in a mass shooting inside a bank in Sebring, Florida made his first appearance before a judge on Thursday, showing no emotion.

Zephen Xaver, 21, is charged with five counts homicide, murder in the first degree.  In his jail booking photo, Xander is sporting a tan T-shirt bearing the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund choked up talking about Wednesday’s massacre at the SunTrust Bank, during a news conference.

“Zephen Xaver knowingly and intentionally took the lives of five of our fellow community members, our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, and our co-workers,” said Chief Hogland.  

The chief says Xaver entered the bank at 12:30 p.m. armed with a 9 millimeter handgun wearing a bullet proof vest.

“Took over the bank by force. He then shot everyone in the bank.”

According to Xaver’s arrest affidavit, police found the five victims in the main lobby, lying face down on the floor with gunshot wounds to the back of their heads and to their upper torsos.

After the shootings, investigators said Xaver called 911 telling to dispatcher that he’d shot five people.

Chief Hogland said he called in the SWAT team when Xaver made it clear there would be no negotiating. The SWAT team made a forced entry, but it was too late.  

“Unfortunately, all victims had succumbed to their injuries inside the bank," he said.

All five victims were women.  Two families asked for the names of their loved ones not to be released publicly.  The other three victims are 65-year-old Cynthia Lee Watson, a customer at the bank, 55-year-old Marisol Lopez and 38-year-old Ana Pinon-Williams, who both worked at the bank.  

The family of Pinon-Williams told reporters that she had just started working at the bank at the beginning of January.  One of her brother-in-laws is a Sebring Police officer.  He was initially called out to the scene, but once the department realized he my have a family member inside they called him back.  

Pinon-Williams leaves behind a large family, including three children and four stepchildren.  

“Living without her will be hard,” said another brother-in-law Tim Williams.  “Her life was truly a light in this world. She made it a better place.”

Police said there was a sixth person inside the bank.  That employee was in the back of the building, heard gunshots, ran out the back door and immediately called 911.  Police say that employee is helping with the investigation.  

Chief Hoglund said they have more questions than answers about massacre.  He said Xaver did not have any connection to the bank or any of it’s employees and that it doesn’t appear he was there to rob the bank.  Police also don’t yet know if Xaver had been planning this attack for a while or if it was a day of decision.