Marine veteran arrested in Florida shooting that killed family of 4 is denied bond

Handcuffs. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

The former Marine who allegedly murdered a family of four in Lakeland, Florida, and left an 11-year-old girl in critical condition Sunday was denied bond Monday during his first court appearance.

Bryan Riley, 33, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted first degree murder of law enforcement officers, cruelty to an animal, shooting into a building, arson and burglary.

Marine veteran Bryan Riley, 33, faces four counts of first-degree murder and more. (Polk County Sheriff’s Office/TNS)

Riley, a trained sharpshooter who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, surrendered to police Sunday morning after a shootout with officers from inside the Lakeland home, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

The self-described “survivalist” first showed up at the house around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, when he told a woman that God sent him to speak with one of her daughters, Amber. The woman told him that there was no Amber there and he left, only to stop down the road and tell two more people that he was looking for Amber, who he claimed God had told him intended to commit suicide.

The woman called police, who searched for about 20 minutes, then left, finding neither Riley nor his car.

Riley then allegedly went home to Brandon, talked to his girlfriend and returned to Lakeland around 4:30 a.m.

That’s when a Polk County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant who happened to be in the area heard “two volleys of automatic gunfire,” Judd said during a press conference Sunday.

Responding police arrived at the house to find a truck on fire and heard a popping noise coming from the front yard. There, Riley was “totally outfitted in body armor and looked as though he was ready to engage us in an active shooter situation,” Judd said. Glow sticks were laid out in a path between the road and the residence.

Riley ran back inside the house when he saw the police, at which point the deputies heard a gunshot, a woman scream and a baby “whimper,” according to Judd.

A lieutenant attempted to get in the front door but, finding it barricaded, met Riley around the back of the house, where the two traded gunfire before Riley retreated back inside. He then proceeded to shoot at officers out front before eventually surrendering.

He had been shot and was taken to the hospital, where he attempted to take a gun from an officer.

Inside the house, officers found an 11-year-old girl with multiple gunshots, who told them that three people were dead inside. The girl is critical but stable Monday morning, a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office told the Daily News.

Justice Gleason, 40, a 33-year-old woman and a 3-month-old baby boy, still in his mother’s arm, were found dead, “huddling and hiding in fear,” Judd said.

The baby’s 62-year-old grandmother was found dead in another house on the same property.

The family dog had also been fatally shot.

“They begged for their lives and I killed them anyway,” Riley allegedly told police after his arrest.

Judd said investigators have found “zero connection” between Riley and his victims. His girlfriend told police that he had been suffering from PTSD recently.


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