“God sent me here to speak with one of your daughters,” said Brian Riley, age 33, when he came to a private house in Lakeland in Polk County, Florida on Saturday. Baffled and worried, a resident of the house called authorities about it, citing a suspicious vehicle parked outside their residence.
When the authorities arrived, the suspect and the vehicle were nowhere to be found.
Nine hours later, Riley, now in full body armor, came back to the residence, killing four people including a dog and a 3 month-old-baby.
Initial reports say that the victims include a 40-year-old man, a 33-year-old woman, and their three-month-old son, as well as a 62-year-old grandmother of a child in another house. Riley also killed the family dog named Diogi, and injured an 11-year-old girl with multiple gunshots, who is still hospitalized.
The shooting happened at around 4:30 in the morning, where law enforcement was alerted to volleys of automatic gunfire. When they arrived at the area, a series of glow sticks were laid out on the yard forming a path, and the suspect, wearing a bulletproof vest, camo, knee protection, and head protection, engaged in a violent shootout with the police.
After a few minutes, the suspect willingly surrendered but tried to take a jump and grab an officer’s gun at Lakeland Regional Hospital, where the suspect was taken after the shootout.
Brian Riley was a former marine who served four years in the Marines and was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009-2010 as a designated sharpshooter. According to his girlfriend, Brian suffered from PTSD.
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“But a week ago today, meaning last Sunday, he did security at a church in Orlando. And he came home and he said, you know, God spoke to him and now he can talk directly to God. And she said I’ve never seen that kind of behavior,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Early investigation states that there were no connection between the suspect and the victims, and the police officers found it hard to explain why Brian Riley chose to murder those specific people at that particular property.
“We just know we had a madman with a lot of guns that shot and killed innocent people,” Judd said on a news conference. “This man killed four people this morning, tried to kill our deputies and then gave up.”
The suspect has now been taken into custody at a local prison.