LAKELAND, USA — A former US Navy serviceman who fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars shot and killed four people, including a 3-month-old baby, in a residential area of Polk County, central Florida, on Sunday . Before turning himself in to police, 33-year-old veteran Bryan Riley also shot an 11-year-old girl seven times.
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According to Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, the sniper had already visited the homes of victims, with whom he had no relationship, on Saturday, but left after police were called. Among the dead are a 40-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman who was carrying the baby in her arms. The fourth victim was the child’s 62-year-old grandmother.
The shooter told police that he had used methamphetamine and that he is a “survivalist”, meaning he believes the end of the world is near and is actively preparing to survive it. The motivation for the attack is unknown, but Judd said the man had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and told police, without revealing details, “You know why I did this.”
Riley exchanged fire with the police before turning himself in. He was injured in the shooting and was taken to a hospital, where he tried to take a gun from one of the officers, and was sedated. No security agents were injured.
“He told our detectives at one point, ‘They begged for their lives and I killed them,'” the sheriff reported at a press conference.
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After receiving medical attention, the shooter was taken to a local prison. According to the sheriff, Riley is expected to appear in court later this Monday.
The veteran will be charged with four first-degree murders, seven attempted first-degree murders of law enforcement officials and one attempted murder, according to the Polk Sheriff’s office. He is not a first-time offender: he has been charged with arson and armed robbery with assault and firefighting in a building.
Riley worked as a bodyguard and a security guard. His girlfriend, who has been with him for four years, told investigators he suffered from occasional depression in addition to post-traumatic stress disorder. About a week ago, the veteran’s mental health took a turn for the worse, and he told his girlfriend he had started talking to God, Sheriff Judd said.
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The sniper first appeared at the house where the shooting took place on Saturday night, making nonsense claims, but left just as police were called. On Sunday morning, he came back and committed the murders. When law enforcement officers arrived at the property, which has three houses, they found a truck on fire.
A policeman tried to enter the house through the front door, but it was blocked. When he managed to get in through the back, Riley started shooting and the cop retaliated. Sheriff Judd said investigators found in Riley’s truck a first-aid kit and at least two firearms.
Before agents entered the house, robots were sent to check for explosives or other traps.
“Besides, as if he wasn’t bad enough already, he shot and killed the family dog,” Judd said.