POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A former Marine and sharpshooter shot four people including an infant in multiple Polk County homes before turning the gun on law enforcement in what officials called a “mass shooting.”
Deputies around 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening responded to a suspicious vehicle and person call on North Socrum Loop Road north of Lakeland in unincorporated Polk County.
The woman who noticed the suspicious person told deputies he told her, “God sent me here to speak to one of your daughters,” Sheriff Grady Judd said Sunday during a news conference.
However by the time deputies arrived, the vehicle was no longer there, Judd said. Deputies scoured the area looking for the vehicle, but couldn’t find it.
Several hours later around 4:30 a.m., a lieutenant responding to another scene a few miles away heard “a volley of automatic gunfire,” Judd said.
Deputies responded to that scene and shortly after, the sheriff’s office received calls of an active shooter and initiated its active shooter protocol.
When deputies arrived at the scene they found a truck on fire and heard a popping noise. Deputies also noticed breakable lights lining the path from the road to the house.
“As we approached, we saw an individual totally outfitted and body armor and looked as if he was ready to engage us all in an active shooter situation, but we didn’t see a firearm,” Judd said.
The man then ran back into the house. Deputies then heard another volley of gunfire and a woman scream and a baby whimper, Judd said. A lieutenant tried to make entry into the front of the house, but it was barricaded, so he ran to the back of the house where they were able to make entry and gunfire ensued.
Three deputies were pinned down by gunfire through the front of the residence.
The suspect eventually came out with his hands raised and was taken into custody after being shot once, Judd said.
Deputies inside found an 11-year-old girl shot multiple times who was still alive. She was eventually transported to a Tampa hospital where she is still believed to be in surgery, Judd said.
The girl told deputies that there were three dead people in the house.
Deputies then found a man, woman and infant in the mother’s arms in the house, all shot to death, Judd said.
Judd said the three victims were “huddling and hiding in fear” in the house. The three victims were a 40-year-old male, a 33-year-old female and a 3-month-old boy.
The family’s dog was also fatally shot, Judd said.
Deputies then went to the house behind it and found a 62-year-old woman shot to death, who was later identified as the woman’s mother and infant’s grandmother.
Deputies are still looking for a fifth child around 10 or 11 years old, Judd said.
Judd later identified the gunman as 33-year-old Bryan Riley, a former Marine who served for four years before being honorably discharged, the served three years in the Reserves.
He was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009-2010 and was a designated sharpshooter.
He most recently worked as a bodyguard and a security officer.
Judd said authorities located his girlfriend of four years who as “absolutely, totally cooperative,” Judd said.
Young’s girlfriend told deputies that Young had PTSD, but had never seen him violent.
Riley told deputies that he was “taking meth” and also described himself as a survivalist.
Judd referred to Riley as “evil in the flesh.”
Watch the full press conference below:
While being treated at the hospital, Riley tried to grab a Lakeland police officer’s gun, Judd said. He was given medication to render him unable to fight.
Judd said “dozens if not hundreds of rounds” were fired overall.
“This is a horrific incident,” State Attorney Brian Haas said during a news conference Sunday. “Our community and many families are hurting this morning. We are committed to working closely with law enforcement, getting to the bottom of this. I know there are a lot of questions, more questions than answers at this point. But the bottom line is we’re all going to work together. We’re going to provide support to the families of these victims. And we want answers certainly, but we’re going to get justice for the victims and for our community.”
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See a map of the scene below:
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