Marine Veteran Charged With Murders of Florida Family, Including 3-Month-Old Baby
Bryan Riley, 33, reportedly had no ties to the family, and believed that he was on a mission from God, according to authorities.
Police have arrested a Marine veteran who allegedly killed a family in Florida. Bryan Riley, 33, allegedly killed a couple, their 3-month-old son and the child’s grandmother on Sunday. A 7-year-old girl who was in the home was also shot several times, but she survived and is in critical condition, CBS News reported.
"The big question that all of us have is why?” local prosecutor Brian Haas said after the killings. ”We will not know today or maybe ever."
Police said that Riley, who served as a sharpshooter in Iraq and Afghanistan, visited the home of the victims about nine hours before the early morning shootings and stopped his truck in front of the Lakeland home.
Justice Gleason, 40, who has been identified as one of the victims by police, was outside mowing the lawn when Riley told him that God had sent him to prevent a suicide by someone named Amber, according to court records obtained by CBS News.
Gleason called police after the encounter. Authorities searched the area but Riley was nowhere to be found.
"We get thousands of reports of suspicious people," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference. "To suggest that we've got time to stop and do an investigation of every suspicious vehicle is not possible. He made zero threats. He was just a guy that was saying some really goofy stuff."
Around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Riley allegedly returned to the home. Authorities said he arranged glowsticks on a path to the house and began shooting, according to authorities. An officer who was nearby heard the shooting and local and state authorities were called in.
When they arrived, Riley was allegedly outside the home dressed in camouflage, and his truck was on fire. He then ran back into the house and continued shooting, officials said. The front door of the home was barricaded so authorities could not enter, Judd said.
Police exchanged gunfire with Riley, who put on full body armor inside the home, and hundreds of rounds were fired. He was shot once and eventually surrendered, officials said.
Authorities said when they arrested Riley outside the home ,he said, "You know why I did this." A motive is still not clear. He is believed to have had no connection to the family.
An officer bolted into the home after Riley's capture and was able to rescue a 7-year-old who had been shot seven times but was still alive, Judd said. The three other people in the home had already died. The family dog was shot dead as well.
"I will never be able to unsee that mother with that deceased infant in her arms," Judd said. "It is a horror of the utmost magnitude."
Riley is being held without bond on four counts of first-degree murder. He has not yet hired a lawyer and has been assigned a public defender.
Riley’s girlfriend told authorities he had been behaving erratically recently but had never been violent. He also had recently claimed that he was on a mission from God, CBS News reported. Riley had no criminal history and had been working as a security guard.
"This guy was a war hero. He fought for his country," Judd said. Now, "he's a cold-blooded killer.”
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