5 fatally shot inside Florida bank, suspect arrested

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Law enforcement officers stand near a Florida Department of Law Enforcement vehicle that is parked in front of SunTrust Bank branch on Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Florida, where authorities say five people were shot and killed. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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Law enforcement officials take cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch on Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Florida. Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. (The News Sun via AP)
Updated 24 January 2019

5 fatally shot inside Florida bank, suspect arrested

  • Authorities identified the suspect as 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, who was arrested at the SunTrust branch
  • Investigators did not offer any potential motive, and a police spokesman said he did not know if the attack began as a robbery

SEBRING, Florida: A gunman opened fire inside a Florida bank Wednesday, killing five people before surrendering to a SWAT team, police said.
The shooter called police to report that he had fired shots inside the bank in Sebring, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) southeast of Tampa. Negotiations failed to persuade the barricaded man to leave the building. The SWAT team then entered the bank, and the gunman eventually gave up, police said.
“Today’s been a tragic day in our community,” Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund told a news conference. “We’ve suffered significant loss at the hands of a senseless criminal doing a senseless crime.”
Authorities identified the suspect as 21-year-old Zephen Xaver, who was arrested at the SunTrust branch, Hoglund said.
Xaver briefly was an online student of Salt Lake City-based Stevens-Henager College. A spokeswoman for the college, Sherrie Martin, confirmed that Xaver was enrolled from September 2018 until December, when he withdrew. She said his residence was listed as Sebring.
Investigators did not offer any potential motive, and a police spokesman said he did not know if the attack began as a robbery. The dead were not immediately identified.
Gov. Ron DeSantis was in the region for an infrastructure tour and traveled to Sebring after the shooting. He said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would assist Sebring police and the Highlands County sheriff’s office.
“Obviously, this is an individual who needs to face very swift and exacting justice,” DeSantis said of the suspect.
An FBI mobile command unit arrived at the bank Wednesday evening to join the investigation.
Late Wednesday, police investigators still swarmed the bank, which sits between a hotel and a hair salon located in a business district of US 27. The four-lane highway passes through farming communities and small towns as it connects South Florida and central Florida.
Meanwhile, police had wrapped up work at Xaver’s nicely maintained, pre-fabricated home about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) from the bank.
John Larose, who lives next door to Xaver’s home, said Xaver and his mother had moved in several months ago. Xaver kept to himself, but Larose said he could hear Xaver playing and yelling at video games in the middle of the night.
SunTrust Chairman and CEO Bill Rogers released a statement saying the bank was “working with officials and dedicating ourselves to fully addressing the needs of all the individuals and families involved.”
The bank’s “entire team mourns this terrible loss,” he said.
Sebring is a small, rural city northwest of Lake Okeechobee. The Sebring International Raceway hosts an annual WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.


India’s ex-finance minister Chidambaram arrested at home in dramatic raid

Updated 21 August 2019

India’s ex-finance minister Chidambaram arrested at home in dramatic raid

  • Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday
  • At a news conference, he called his accusers “pathological liars”

NEW DELHI: High drama unfolded in New Delhi late Wednesday as officers from India’s equivalent of the FBI scaled the walls of a former finance minister’s home to arrest him on corruption charges, local media reported.
Earlier in the day, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alerted airports to prevent Palaniappan Chidambaram, finance minister from 2004-2008 and again from 2012-2014, from leaving the country.
Chidambaram, 73, earlier this week failed to secure bail and had not been seen since Tuesday, until he showed up at the headquarters of the opposition Congress party on Wednesday to proclaim his innocence.
At a news conference, he called his accusers “pathological liars.”
Driving then to his home in the upscale Jor Bagh neighborhood, he was tailed by around 30 CBI officers who knocked at the doors before scaling the boundary walls, the Press Trust of India reported.
Once three officers were inside, they opened the gates to allow team members to enter, while others rushed to the back door to secure all exit points, PTI reported.
After Chidamabaram was arrested, party supporters gathered outside the home to protest. Some jumped on the car in which the politician was taken away, the agency said.
Chidambaram has been charged in relation to alleged kickbacks and money laundering involving a media company when he was finance minister under former premier Manmohan Singh.
He was expected to appear in a special CBI court on Thursday, PTI reported.