Community pauses to remember bank shooting victims

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At little after noon, at 12:36, they gathered outside the SunTrust Bank on U.S 27. It was a supposed to be a moment of silence to remember the five women murdered there earlier in the week.

But there were prayers, hugs and tears as well.

“There is too much hate, and it has to stop somehow,” said Nelly Gonzalez.

Zephen Xaver is now charged with the killing spree. Investigators say the 21-year-old told four employees and one bank customer to get down on the floor, then shot them in the back.

Detectives say he targeted the bank at random and had no connection to the victims.

Gonzalez, who came to the vigil with a number of other staffers from the hotel right next door to the bank, is still shaken by what could have been.

“At the end of the day, it could have been us,” she said. “It was just a matter of right or left, and he took right.”

Even though detectives say they have not figured out his motive yet, they say it does not appear to be robbery.

RELATED: The victims: 4 employees, 1 customer killed in Sebring bank shooting

On Friday, the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office also named another victim, Jessica Montegue.

“She loved community,” said Jose Sanchez, a friend. “She loved serving people with a smile. She was all heart.”

Friends of the victims have come up with a decal they are distributing for a donation. It says “Sebring Strong.” They will be available at a vigil this Sunday night, planned for the Highlands News-Sun Center, 781 Magnolia Avenue in Sebring. It starts at 6 p.m.