State attorney to seek death penalty against Florida bank mass shooting suspect

PHOTO: Law enforcement officers stand near a Florida Department of Law Enforcement vehicle that is parked in front of SunTrust Bank branch, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla.PlayChris O'Meara/AP, FILE
WATCH State attorney to seek death penalty against bank mass shooting suspect

A Florida state attorney general will seek the death penalty against the suspect in a mass shooting at a bank that left five women dead last month.

Zephen Xaver, 21, accused in the Jan. 23 shooting inside the SunTrust Bank in Sebring, allegedly called 911 after the crime, telling dispatchers, "I have shot five people."

Xaver was then taken into custody.

PHOTO: Video shared on social media shows a man being led out of a SunTrust branch in Sebring, Fla., after a shooting on Jan. 23, 2019. Courtesy Stefan Roehrig, FILE
Video shared on social media shows a man being led out of a SunTrust branch in Sebring, Fla., after a shooting on Jan. 23, 2019.

A Highlands County grand jury has indicted Xaver on five counts of first-degree murder for the "senseless killings," Brian Haas, the state attorney for the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, said at a news conference Friday.

Haas called the indictment an "important early step" and said he plans to "seek the ultimate punishment."

PHOTO: Members of the community attend a memorial service for Marisol Lopez at Nuevo Pacto United Methodist Church in Sebring, Fla., Jan. 24, 2019. Lopez was one of five people killed in a shooting in the Sebring SunTrust Bank. Kinfay Moroti/The News-Press via USA Today Network
Members of the community attend a memorial service for Marisol Lopez at Nuevo Pacto United Methodist Church in Sebring, Fla., Jan. 24, 2019. Lopez was one of five people killed in a shooting in the Sebring SunTrust Bank.
PHOTO: Law enforcement officers stand near a Florida Department of Law Enforcement vehicle that is parked in front of SunTrust Bank branch, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla. Chris OMeara/AP, FILE
Law enforcement officers stand near a Florida Department of Law Enforcement vehicle that is parked in front of SunTrust Bank branch, Jan. 23, 2019, in Sebring, Fla.

"We have a lot of questions," Haas said. "The 'why?' The 'how could this happen?'"

Ana PiƱon-Williams, 38, Marisol Lopez, 55, Jessica Eileen Noreen Montague, 31, were all bank employees who were killed; Cynthia Watson, 65, was a customer at the bank that day.

The identity of the fifth victim was not released.

Haas said he met with the victims' families and "there was no hesitation" regarding his office's decision to seek the death penalty.

Xaver is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 25, Haas said.