Former marine sharpshooter kills 4, including a baby, in Florida

Bryan Riley, who also shot and wounded an 11-year-old girl, surrendered after he was shot at least once during gunfights with deputies. PHOTO: POLK COUNTY SHERIFF/TWITTER

FLORIDA (NYTIMES) - A former Marine sharpshooter who served in Afghanistan fatally shot four people, including an infant, in two homes near Lakeland, Florida, early on Sunday (Sept 5) and exchanged gunfire with sheriff's deputies before he was taken into custody, the authorities said.

The gunman, who also shot and wounded an 11-year-old girl, surrendered after he was shot at least once during two gunfights with deputies in which dozens, if not hundreds, of rounds were fired in a residential neighbourhood in Polk County, Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters.

Three of the people who were killed - a 40-year-old man, a 33-year-old woman and a three-month-old boy whom the woman was cradling in her arms - were found inside one home, the authorities said. A fourth victim, the infant's 62-year-old grandmother, was found shot to death in another home on the same property.

Investigators could not immediately say what prompted the rampage, which they said began around 4.30am.

They identified the gunman as Bryan Riley, 33, of Brandon, Florida, which is east of Tampa. He was taken into custody by officers from several law enforcement agencies in tactical gear as a helicopter hovered above the scene. No law enforcement officers were injured.

Sheriff Judd said at a news conference that Riley was experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and was wearing body armour and camouflage when he barricaded himself inside one of the homes. There was no known connection between the victims and Riley, who works in "executive protection as a bodyguard and to provide security", Mr Judd said.

"But he says at one point to our detectives, 'They begged for their lives, and I killed them anyway,' " Mr Judd said on Sunday afternoon. "He's evil in the flesh. He was a rabid animal."

Sheriff Judd identified the man who was killed as Mr Justice Gleason, of Lakeland, but did not release the names of the others who were fatally shot. A family dog, which was named for a Polk County sheriff's dog that was fatally shot along with its handler in the line of duty, was also killed, Mr Judd said.

While Riley was being treated at a hospital emergency room, he tried to grab a police officer's gun and had to be medicated and restrained, Mr Judd said.

"He was ready for battle," the Sheriff said earlier on Sunday of Riley, who he said had told deputies that he was a "survivalist" and had taken methamphetamine.

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