SEBRING, Fla. (WFLA) – At least five people are dead after a gunman walked into a central Florida bank and opened fire on Wednesday afternoon, authorities say.
Sebring police officials say 21-year-old Zephen Zaver called 911 around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and reported that he had fired shots inside the SunTrust Bank on US-27 South in Sebring. The city is 94 miles southeast of Tampa, about an hour and 45 minutes away.
Sebring police officers and Highlands County deputies responded to the scene and established a perimeter around the bank. Our news helicopter flying over the scene saw a massive law enforcement presence as police tried to negotiate with the man barricaded inside.
Police were unsuccessful at first but say the man eventually surrendered after the Highlands County SWAT team went into the bank and continued to negotiate.
Authorities have not released official details yet on if anyone was shot or how severe their injuries are but a police commander told News Channel 8 “several people were down.” Highlands County authorities are holding a news conference at 4:30 p.m. with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
According to his office, Gov. DeSantis spoke with Highlands County Sheriff Paul Blackman and FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen via phone shortly after the shooting. He later tweeted that he was offering all the support they may need and was praying for the families and victims.
Sen. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer both tweeted that they had spoken with Sheriff Blackman and offered their prayers and support.
Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell wrote on his Facebook page, “Getting more info now – none of it is good…Please keep praying.” He told NBC News he knows there have been “multiple people shot,” and called them civilian injuries.
The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office says US-27 was shut down in both directions from Golfview Drive to Lakeview Drive due to the incident.
The sheriff’s office asked co-workers and family members of anyone who was inside the bank during the incident should go to the Inn on the Lakes on Gulfview Road.
The Kindergarten Learning Center and Fred Wild Elementary were temporarily put on controlled campus but those were lifted around 2:30 p.m.