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    Former prison guard trainee kills 5 in Florida bank

    Law enforcement officials take cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla. Authorities say they've arrested a man who fired shots inside the Florida bank. (The News Sun via AP)
    The News Sun via AP
    Law enforcement officials took cover outside a SunTrust Bank branch Wednesday in Sebring, Fla.

    SEBRING, Fla. — A former prison guard trainee who recently moved to Florida from Indiana killed five people during a standoff at a small town bank before surrendering to a SWAT team that stormed the building, police said.

    Investigators said Zephen Xaver, 21, called police from inside the SunTrust Bank branch Wednesday to report that he had opened fire. He barricaded himself inside and when negotiations failed, the SWAT team burst in, capturing Xaver and discovering the bodies, police said. Investigators did not offer a possible motive, and a police spokesman said he did not know if the attack began as a robbery. The victims were not immediately identified.

    Late Wednesday, police investigators still swarmed the bank, which sits between a hotel and a hair salon located in a business district of U.S. 27. The four-lane highway passes through farming communities and small towns as it connects South Florida and central Florida. Sebring, with 10,000 residents, is known internationally for its annual 12 Hours of Sebring endurance auto race that draws world-class drivers.

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    ‘‘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.’’

    Sebring, Fla., police chief Karl Hoglund wipes his head as he listens to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speak during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla., after authorities said five people were shot and killed at a SunTrust bank branch. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    Chris O'Meara/AP
    Sebring police Chief Karl Hoglund wiped his head as he listened to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speak during a news conference on Wednesday.
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    He said more information would be released at a Thursday morning press conference.

    Florida Department of Corrections records show that Xaver was hired as a trainee prison guard at Avon Park Correctional Institution on Nov. 2 and resigned Jan. 9. No disciplinary issues were reported. Public records and neighbors said Xaver had arrived in Sebring last fall with his mother, living in a non-descript pre-fabricated home about 4 miles from the bank. No one answered the door Wednesday night after police finished searching the home. Public records and neighbors say he and his mother moved to Sebring in the fall from Plymouth, Indiana, a town south of Notre Dame University.

    John Larose, who lives next door, said Xaver kept to himself, but he could hear him playing and yelling at video games in the middle of the night.

    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.

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    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.

    SEBRING, FLORIDA - JANUARY 23: A law enforcement official investigates the scene where five people were killed at a SunTrust Bank branch on January 23, 2019 in Sebring, Florida. The shooter entered the building and shot five and was later taken into custody. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
    Joe Raedle/Getty Images
    A law enforcement official investigated the scene where five people were killed at a SunTrust Bank.

    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.

    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.’’

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    The bank’s ‘‘entire team mourns this terrible loss,’’ he said.