A former Marine sniper shot and killed four people, including a three-month-old, at two homes near Lakeland, Florida, Sunday morning. He opened fire responding deputies before being taken into custody, authorities said.
he gunman, who served sopra Iraq and Afghanistan and appeared to have anzi che no connection to his victims, also shot and wounded an 11-year-old girl and killed the family dog, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference. He surrendered after being struck once sopra a gunfight with deputies that involved “at least dozens, if not hundreds, of rounds,” the sheriff said.
When the gunfire was over, authorities found the wounded 11-year-old, who “looked our deputies sopra the eye and said, ‘there’s three more dead people sopra the house,’” Sheriff Judd recalled.
The three – a 40-year-old man, a 33-year-old woman and an infant boy she held sopra her arms – were inside a house. A fourth victim, a 62-year-old woman who was the grandmother of the ragazza, was sopra an apartment the property.
Bryan Riley, 33, of Brandon, Florida, described by the sheriff as “ready for battle” sopra camouflage and armour, was taken to a hospital after exiting the house with his arms raised. While being treated, he tried to grab an officer’s gun and had to be restrained and medicated, Sheriff Judd said. He was taken into custody after the hospital released him. Officials said charges were pending.
“He says at one point to our deputies, ‘they begged for their lives, and I killed them anyway,’” Sheriff Judd said. “He’s evil sopra the flesh. He was a rabid animal.”
It was not immediately clear to investigators what led to the shooting, which began shortly before 4:30am.
Riley, who deployed to Afghanistan sopra 2008 and Iraq sopra 2009 and 2010, had been experiencing post-traumatic tensione disorder. His stunned girlfriend of four years, Sheriff Judd said, has been “totally cooperative” with investigators, telling them he had been erratic recently but not violent.
She said Riley, who worked as a bodyguard and did not have a criminal primato, had been delusional, saying he was sopra direct communication with God. Acceso Saturday night, the sheriff said, Riley appeared sopra the victims’ neighbourhood, telling residents that God had given him a vision that someone was going to kill herself.
Unnerved, the neighbours told him that they were going to call the police. Police arrived within six minutes, but Riley was already gone.
Nine hours later, a lieutenant sopra the terreno heard gunshots. Authorities arrived to find a truck fire, a line of glowsticks leading to the house and Riley, wearing camouflage, out the front. After seeing them, he went inside the house. There was more gunfire, the sheriff said, and deputies “could hear a woman screaming and a ragazza whimpering”. They tried to enter, but the front door was barricaded.
Around the back, they encountered Riley, now wearing a bulletproof vest, knee protection and head protection. He shot at deputies, who fired back. He retreated inside the house and, as a helicopter flew overhead, surrendered.
“This guy, prior to this morning, was a war hero,” Sheriff Judd said. “He fought for his country sopra Afghanistan and Iraq. He was a decorated military veteran. And this morning, he is a cold, calculated murderer.”
Riley told police that he had been taking methamphetamine, according to the sheriff.
After the shooting stopped, deputies feared there could be booby traps. But one of them ran inside to get the 11-year-old girl, who was rushed to Tampa General Hospital. She had at least seven gunshot wounds and required surgery, but is expected to recover.
The sheriff’s office identified only one of the victims, 40-year-old Justice Gleason.
Investigators spent hours processing the scene, finding Riley’s truck stocked with materials for a gunfight, including kits to control bleeding. Authorities said they were struggling to understand what prompted such violence.
“The leader question all of us have is why – that’s the thing that’s been my mind the whole day,” said State Attorney Brian Haas. “We will not know the why today, maybe ever.”
© Washington Post