The shooting took place on a property outside Lakeland, Florida, and escalated when the suspect, dressed in a bulletproof vest, engaged in a shootout with police before turning himself in to authorities.
He later tried to take a gun from an officer at a hospital, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
“This man killed four people this morning, tried to kill our agents and then surrendered,” Judd said Sunday.
Here’s what we know about the shooting:
Four people were killed in the shooting and a girl was injured, authorities said.
Inside a home on the property, a 40-year-old man, a 3-month-old baby and the mother of the 33-year-old baby were found dead. The baby’s 62-year-old grandmother was found in a second home on the property, Judd said.
An 11-year-old girl had been shot multiple times and flown to Tampa General Hospital for surgery. He is expected to recover.
Another minor who had previously disappeared was found alive and well, Judd said.
The family dog, Diogi, was also fatally shot, he added.
The suspect, identified as Brian Riley, 33, lives in Brandon, Florida, about 30 miles from where the shooting occurred. At a news conference Sunday afternoon, Judd said there did not appear to be any connection between the suspect and the victims, and he had a difficult time explaining why the suspect chose that particular family and property.
“We only know that we had a madman with many weapons who shot and killed innocent people,” he said.
The suspect was treated for the injuries sustained during his arrest and released. He is currently in the custody of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, according to Judd.
The suspect served four years in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged, then spent another three years on the reserve, Judd said. He was dispatched to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009-2010 as a designated sniper, the sheriff said.
The suspect was employed by ESS Global Corp as a bodyguard and to provide security, Judd said. He has a gun license and has virtually no criminal record.
“We are not dealing with a traditional criminal here. What we are dealing with is someone who obviously had mental health issues at least this past week, had PTSD,” Judd said, citing the acronym for post-traumatic stress disorder.
In an interview with officers, the suspect described himself as “a survivor,” a term that generally refers to a person proactively preparing for a post-apocalyptic world, and confessed to taking methamphetamine, Judd said. The suspect’s girlfriend told authorities that he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and that he had been acting erratically in the past week, and even said he was receiving visions from God, according to the sheriff.
“He said he had PTSD. I’ve seen him depressed. I’ve never seen him violent,” Judd said. “But today a week ago, that is, last Sunday, he did a security service at a church in Orlando. And he came home and he said, you know, God spoke to him and now he can speak directly to God. And she said I’ve never seen that kind of behavior, “Judd said Sunday.
It all started Saturday night when a woman called authorities to report a suspicious vehicle and said a man who was parked outside her home told her: “God sent me here to talk to one of his daughters,” Judd said. to journalists on Sunday.
An agent responded within six minutes and did not find the suspect or the car at the residence, he said.
Approximately nine hours later, at around 4:30 a.m., an officer 3 kilometers away heard two volleys of automatic gunfire. Officers responded and calls also began to come in reporting an active shooting, the sheriff said.
Upon arrival, officers discovered a burning truck and heard popping noises from the vehicle. A series of light bars had been placed in the courtyard to form a path, Judd said. There, they saw a man dressed in camouflage who quickly fled inside the house. Then they heard disturbing sounds.
“At that moment, we heard another volley and the cry of a woman and the groan of a baby,” Judd said.
Confrontation with the police
A lieutenant tried to enter through the front of the house, but there was a barricade. The lieutenant then went to the back of the house and entered and encountered the same suspect, now dressed in a bulletproof vest, camouflage, knee protection and head protection, according to the sheriff.
The suspect shot the lieutenant, who returned fire and withdrew from the home, Judd said. The suspect then began shooting at other officers, who also returned fire, he said.
There was a period of silence and then the suspect came out with his hands up, Judd said. The suspect, who had been shot, was arrested.
The suspect was taken to Lakeland Regional Hospital where, at one point, he jumped up and tried to grab an officer’s gun, Judd said. Finally he was subdued and treated.
Judd said there were “at least dozens, if not hundreds” of shots fired between the suspect and officers.
“It was a difficult situation and involved at least two close-range shootings with the suspect,” he said.
Photos Posted by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office showed the extent of the damage to the home Sunday morning. A glass door appears completely broken, two windows and one wall are riddled with bullet holes, and a burned-out truck stands outside the house.
— Polk County Sheriff 🚔 (@PolkCoSheriff) September 5, 2021