An armored “survivalist” on meth who spent four years in the Marines told a woman that God sent him to speak with one of her daughters, then returned and killed four people inside the Florida home Sunday morning, according to police.
Lakeland police were called to the home around 7:30 p.m. Saturday after the woman called 911 on the suspicious man. But after searching for about 20 minutes, neither the man nor his car were located, so police left.
A short distance down the road, two other people saw the man, later identified as 33-year-old Bryan Riley, who said he was looking for “Amber,” according to Sheriff Grady Judd. Riley said God had sent him there because Amber was going to commit suicide.
Riley, a former Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the late 2010s and now works as an “executive protection specialist” for a company based in Tarpon Springs, Fla., then went home to Brandon, where he met his girlfriend.
Nine hours later, around 4:30 a.m., a Polk County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant heard “two volleys of automatic gunfire” in the area, Judd said during a press conference Sunday morning.
When police arrived at the home again, they saw 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 between the road and the residence, seemingly forming a path.
Riley ran back inside the house, which is when deputies heard a gunshot, a woman scream and a baby “whimper,” according to Judd.
A lieutenant attempted to enter the house, but was stopped by a barricade. He then ran around to the back of the house and was met with gunfire.
Riley retreated back into the house and met responding police at the front, where they again traded gunfire.
Eventually, the gunman surrendered and came out of the house after being shot. He was taken to the hospital, where he struggled with officers and tried to grab a gun.
“You know why I did this,” Riley allegedly told police on the way to the hospital.
An 11-year-old girl was found inside the house, having been shot about seven times.
“She looks our deputies in the eye and says, ‘there’s three more dead people in the house,’” Judd said.
The young girl was hospitalized and is undergoing surgery, but is expected to survive.
Justice Gleason, 44, and a 33-year-old white woman were found dead in the house, as was a 3-month-old boy still in its mother’s arms.
The family was found “huddling and hiding in fear,” Judd said.
A second woman, the 62-year-old grandmother of the baby, was found dead on another house on the same property.
The family dog, named after a Polk County Sheriff’s Office K-9 who was killed in the line of duty in 2006, was also shot.
“They begged for their lives and I killed them anyway,” Riley allegedly told police after his arrest.
Judd said at his second press conference Sunday that investigators have found “zero” connection between Riley and the victims.
“A madman with a lot of guns that shot and killed innocent people,” Judd said, describing him as a “rabid animal.”
Riley’s girlfriend told police that he was suffering from PTSD, but had never been violent before.
Multiple attempts to reach Riley’s employer went unanswered.