Lone survivor of Florida bank massacre ran out a back door to escape

An employee inside the Florida bank where a 21-year-old gunman killed five woman execution-style was able to escape out a back door, police said. 

The lone survivor, whose name has not been released, was in the break room inside SunTrust Bank in Sebring when Zephen Xaver stormed inside on Wednesday. 

Authorities initially said that Xaver killed everyone inside the bank. 

But the employee managed to escape out of a back door after they heard gunshots ring out. 

An employee inside SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, where a 21-year-old gunman killed five woman execution style, was able to escape out a back door and call 911 during the shooting 

An employee inside SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, where a 21-year-old gunman killed five woman execution style, was able to escape out a back door and call 911 during the shooting 

An employee inside SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida, where a 21-year-old gunman killed five woman execution style, was able to escape out a back door and call 911 during the shooting 

The lone survivor, whose name has not been released, was in the break room inside SunTrust Bank when Zephen Xaver (pictured) stormed inside on Wednesday 

The lone survivor, whose name has not been released, was in the break room inside SunTrust Bank when Zephen Xaver (pictured) stormed inside on Wednesday 

The lone survivor, whose name has not been released, was in the break room inside SunTrust Bank when Zephen Xaver (pictured) stormed inside on Wednesday 

The employee ran to safety outside and immediately called 911, according to WKMG

Highlands County Sheriff’s Office said no details about the employee will be released. 

Xaver allegedly opened fire on SunTrust Bank around 12.30pm on Wednesday. Six minutes later, he called 911 and said ‘I have shot five people’. 

Authorities said Xaver, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, made all five of his victims lie down on the lobby floor before shooting them in the back of their heads.  

Xaver refused to surrender when police descended on the scene of the mass shooting with hostage negotiators, still hoping that people were alive inside. 

They then discovered that the doors of the bank were locked. 

After more than an hour, Sebring Police Chief Karl Hoglund Hoglund ordered a SWAT team into the building. 

The employee managed to escape out of a back door after they heard gunshots ring out. Marisol Lopez (pictured) has been named as one of the five women who were killed at the bank 

The employee managed to escape out of a back door after they heard gunshots ring out. Marisol Lopez (pictured) has been named as one of the five women who were killed at the bank 

The employee managed to escape out of a back door after they heard gunshots ring out. Marisol Lopez (pictured) has been named as one of the five women who were killed at the bank 

Cynthia Watson, 65, was also killed during the horrific mass shooting on Wednesday afternoon

Cynthia Watson, 65, was also killed during the horrific mass shooting on Wednesday afternoon

Cynthia Watson, 65, was also killed during the horrific mass shooting on Wednesday afternoon

They had to use an armored vehicle to break through the front doors. By then, all the victims were already dead.  

Xaver, who was also wearing a beige was T-shirt depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, surrendered and was placed under arrest. 

On Thursday morning he was charged with five counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bond. 

Hoglund identified two of the victims as Marisol Lopez, 55, and 65-year-old Cynthia Watson.  

The families of the three other victims have asked that their names not be released to the public. 

‘Zephen Xaver knowingly and intentionally took the lives of our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, and our co-workers,’ Hoglund said during a press conference on Thursday morning. 

A witness said authorities drove a SWAT machine right through the door of the bank after the shooting. The extent of the damage to the bank can be seen here on Thursday morning

A witness said authorities drove a SWAT machine right through the door of the bank after the shooting. The extent of the damage to the bank can be seen here on Thursday morning

A witness said authorities drove a SWAT machine right through the door of the bank after the shooting. The extent of the damage to the bank can be seen here on Thursday morning

‘Perhaps most unfortunate is that now we refer to them as victims of a senseless crime.’ 

Watson was a customer at the bank. Lopez and the three other women were all employees at SunTrust. 

Hoglund said investigators have found no connection to the suspect and any of the five victims. 

Authorities believe it was a random act and that no one was specifically targeted. It remains unclear if Xaver chose the SunTrust Bank ‘for any particular reason’ but police said there is no evidence he was trying to rob it. 

Shell casings from Xaver’s 9mm handgun were scattered on the floor. It remains unclear if the firearm was obtained legally.  

‘We now begin the healing process,’ Hoglund said. ‘We attempt to make sense of a senseless act. We mourn the loss of our peers, our mothers, and our daughters.’ 

After a standoff with officers, Xaver eventually surrendered to SWAT members and was placed under arrest 

After a standoff with officers, Xaver eventually surrendered to SWAT members and was placed under arrest 

After a standoff with officers, Xaver eventually surrendered to SWAT members and was placed under arrest 

Alex Gerlach, who dated Xaver on and off for three years, said she has long tried to warn people about the ex-boyfriend who she said 'wanted everyone to die'

Alex Gerlach, who dated Xaver on and off for three years, said she has long tried to warn people about the ex-boyfriend who she said 'wanted everyone to die'

Alex Gerlach, who dated Xaver on and off for three years, said she has long tried to warn people about the ex-boyfriend who she said ‘wanted everyone to die’

Hoglund said authorities will seek the ‘highest penalty possible to hold him accountable for his actions’. 

Details regarding the victims came as Xaver’s ex-girlfriend revealed he had always been fascinated with death.   

Alex Gerlach, who dated Xaver on and off for three years, said she has long tried to warn people about the ex-boyfriend who she said ‘wanted everyone to die’. 

‘He always hated people,’ Gerlach told WSBTV. ‘He got kicked out of school for having a dream that he killed everybody in his class.’  

Gerlach said her ex-boyfriend had been ‘threatening this for so long’, but that people ignored her warnings.  

Law enforcement officials continued to investigate the crime scene well into the night on Wednesday and Thursday morning 

Law enforcement officials continued to investigate the crime scene well into the night on Wednesday and Thursday morning 

Law enforcement officials continued to investigate the crime scene well into the night on Wednesday and Thursday morning 

‘His mother just completely denies everything and I’ve been scared for years and every single person I’ve told has not taken it seriously and it’s very unfortunate that it had to come to this,’ she added. 

Gerlach said she first met Xaver at a psychiatric hospital in Plymouth, Indiana – where he grew up and attended high school – in 2013. 

‘Since the time we met, he had this fascination with death,’ she told the Washington Post

‘It got worse as we broke up. We got back together on and off for awhile. Then I decided it was too much for my mental health.’ 

But Gerlach would check in with her ex-boyfriend every few months. Just last week, he told her he had purchased a gun and showed her a picture of the firearm. 

Gerlach said ‘no one thought anything of it’ because Xaver had always liked guns.  

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