Monday, June 27

Florida gunman kills 4 people, including mother with child

A man wearing full body armor fatally shot four people, including a mother and the 3-month-old baby she was cradling, and engaged in a mass shooting with police and officers before he was wounded and surrendered, a Florida sheriff said Sunday. An 11-year-old girl who was shot seven survived.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a news conference that even after Bryan Riley, 33, was arrested Sunday morning, he was so aggressive that he tried to snatch a gun from police while lying. on the hospital gurney.

Judd said Riley, a former Marine who served as a sniper in both Iraq and Afghanistan, appeared to have targeted his victims randomly and appeared to suffer from mental health problems. Judd said Riley’s girlfriend told authorities that Riley had been slowly falling apart for weeks and repeatedly told her that she could communicate directly with God.

“They begged for their lives and I killed them anyway,” Judd said Riley told them during an interrogation.

Investigators said preliminary evidence shows Judge Gleason, 40, was an unfortunate stranger who was mowing the lawn Saturday night when Riley drove by his home in Lakeland, about 50 miles east of Tampa, saying God told him to stop because Gleason’s daughter was going to commit suicide.

A second unidentified person also confronted Riley, telling him the story was not true and warning that police would be called if he didn’t leave, Judd said. He referred to the person as a victim, but declined to clarify which one.

Authorities responded to the scene but never found Riley.

About nine hours later, around 4:30 am, Riley returned to the home, putting up glow bars to create a path leading to the home and luring officers “into an ambush,” Judd said.

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At random, a lieutenant in the distance heard popping noises and immediately put the agency into active shooter mode, bringing all state and local law enforcement officials in the area to the scene.

Following the sounds of gunfire, authorities arrived at the home and found Riley’s white truck on fire and an unarmed Riley outside, dressed in camouflage.

Riley immediately ran inside, where authorities heard another round of gunfire, “a woman’s cry and a baby’s whimper,” Judd said.

Officers tried to enter through the front of the house, but it was barricaded. As they rounded the back, they encountered Riley, who appeared to have donned full body armor that included head and knee covers and a bulletproof vest.

Authorities exchanged heavy gunfire, with dozens “if not hundreds of rounds” fired, before Riley returned to the home, according to the sheriff.

All was quiet, Judd said, until a helicopter unit alerted authorities on the ground that Riley was leaving. He had been shot once and he was ready to surrender.

Meanwhile, officers heard cries for help inside the home, but they weren’t sure if there were more shooters and feared the home had a booby trap. A brave sergeant rushed to grab the 11-year-old girl who had been shot at least seven times.

She told officers there were three people dead inside, Judd said, adding that she was taken to surgery and was expected to survive.

Agents sent robots to the house to check for explosives and other traps. When it was clear, they found Gleason’s bodies; the 33-year-old mother; the baby; and the baby’s 62-year-old grandmother, who was in a separate home nearby. Authorities only released Gleason’s name, and did not say if he was related to the other victims or how.

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Authorities declined to say how many times the victims had been shot or where they were in the house, but said they were all hidden and huddled in fear. The family dog ​​was also shot and killed.

Authorities said Riley’s girlfriend of four years, with whom he lived, had cooperated and was shocked, saying he was never violent, but suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and had become increasingly erratic.

She said he had spent the past week on what he called a mission from God, stockpiling supplies he claimed were for victims of Hurricane Ida, including $ 1,000 worth of cigars.

“Before this morning, this guy was a war hero. He fought for his country in Afghanistan and Iraq, ”Judd said. “And this morning he’s a cold-blooded killer.”

Riley, who had no criminal record, also told authorities that he was taking methamphetamine. His vehicle had also been stocked with supplies for a shooting, authorities said, including bleeding control kits.

While receiving treatment at the hospital, Riley jumped up and tried to grab an officer’s gun.

“They had to fight him again in the ER,” Judd said, adding that Riley was eventually tied up and medicated.

He is expected to recover and will be transferred to jail to face charges.

“The big question we all have is, ‘Why?'” Said State Attorney Brian Haas. “We won’t know today or maybe never.”

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