(Trends Wide) — A former Marine Corps sniper who broke into two homes outside Lakeland, Florida early Sunday morning shot dead four people he did not know, including a 3-month-old baby, and wounded an 11-year-old boy. years, he said he had received messages from God, according to an affidavit.
Wearing body armor, the suspect barricaded himself in one of the houses and shot law enforcement officers before surrendering, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. Once in custody, he tried to take a gun from a Lakeland police officer and had to be subdued, Judd said.
The quadruple homicide had no clear motive and authorities said they did not believe the suspect knew any of the victims.
“We just know we had a crazy man with a lot of guns who shot and killed innocent people,” Judd said Sunday.
Authorities identified the suspect as Bryan Riley, a 33-year-old man living in Brandon, about a 45-minute drive from the scene of the shooting.
Riley admitted to officers that he shot multiple people and “expressed that voices and ‘God’ told him to do it,” according to the affidavit. He shot the baby “because I’m a sick guy,” he allegedly said. “I want to confess everything and be sent to jail.”
He now faces four counts of murder in the first degree, as well as counts of attempted murder, arson, armed robbery and shooting in a building, according to an affidavit.
Riley appeared in Florida court Monday morning before Judge Heather Beato, who ordered him detained without bail on all four murder charges, according to 10th Circuit Court Administrator Nick Sudzina. Riley has been assigned a public defender and will be held in the Polk County Jail, according to Sudzina.
Here’s what we know about the shooting:
Four people were killed in the shooting and a child was wounded by gunfire, authorities said.
Inside a home on the property, a 40-year-old man named Justice Gleason, 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 also found dead in a second home on the property, Judd said. She had been hiding in her closet, according to an affidavit.
Each of the victims has multiple gunshot wounds, the affidavit says. The family’s pet dog, Diogi, was also shot dead.
An 11-year-old girl was shot multiple times and flown to Tampa General Hospital for surgery. He is expected to recover. Another child who had previously disappeared was found alive and well, Judd said.
The incident began Saturday night when a woman called authorities to alert that a suspicious man, believed to be Riley, was making strange statements at her home.
The caller said the man had parked outside his home and claimed that God had sent him there because a girl named “Amber” was going to die by suicide, according to an affidavit. The caller did not have a daughter named Amber, but the man refused to leave, the sheriff said. The caller, along with Gleason, told the man to leave and they would call the police, prompting the man to leave the scene.
An agent responded within six minutes and did not find the suspect or the car at the residence, Judd said.
About nine hours later, around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, an officer two miles away heard two volleys of automatic gunfire. Officers responded and calls began coming 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 into 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 get in through the front of the house, but it was barricaded. The lieutenant then went to the back of the house and entered and found 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 responded to the fire and withdrew from the home, Judd said. The suspect then began shooting at other officers, who also returned fire, he said. There were “at least dozens, if not hundreds”, of shots fired between the suspect and the officers.
“It was a difficult situation and involved at least two close-range shootings with the suspect,” the sheriff 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 once, was peacefully detained.
“If he had given us the opportunity, we would have shot him a lot, but he didn’t because he was a coward,” Judd said Sunday. “You see, it’s easy to shoot innocent children, babies, and people in the middle of the night when you have the gun and they don’t.”
Photos released by the Polk County Sheriff 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.
While in custody, the suspect admitted to shooting multiple people and described the victims’ heartbreaking final moments, according to the affidavit.
“The suspect confirmed that while shooting the victims, they were pleading for their lives and he continued to shoot them anyway,” the affidavit reads. “The suspect admitted that one of the victims was hiding and kept saying, ‘please, no, please no’ while shooting him.”
Riley, the suspect, lives in Brandon, Florida, and did not appear to have any connection to the victims, authorities said.
The suspect was treated for injuries sustained during his apprehension and was later 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 sent to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009-2010 as a designated sniper, the sheriff said.
Judd said the suspect worked as a bodyguard and security guard for ESS Global Corp, but the company issued a statement Monday saying he was not his employee. ESS Global said Bryan was an independent contractor who worked for them for three days over the past two years.
He has a license to carry a concealed weapon and has no criminal record other than a “minor charge” as a teenager, the sheriff said.
“We are not dealing with a traditional criminal here. What we are dealing with is someone who obviously had mental health problems at least this past week, had PTSD,” Judd said, referring to the acronym for post-traumatic stress disorder. or PTSD.
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 for the past week, saying he was receiving visions from God, according to the sheriff.
“She 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 security work at a church in Orlando. And he came home and said, you know, God spoke to him and now he can speak directly to God. And she said : ‘I had never seen that kind of behavior’ “.
After visiting the victims’ home on Saturday night, Riley had returned home around 10 pm and told his girlfriend that God had told him to intervene and prevent “Amber’s” suicide, according to the statement. sworn. The girlfriend tried to reason with him, but he locked himself in a room, the affidavit says.
When he woke up the next morning, he discovered that he was not at home and that his cell phone’s GPS coordinates were in the driveway to the scene of the shooting, the document says.
Trends Wide’s Madeline Holcombe contributed to this report.