‘This guy was totally off his rocker’: Governor DeSantis condemns massacre of Lakeland family

State / Regional

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis praised Lakeland police officers and Polk County deputies Tuesday for their work in arresting the suspect in the Lakeland massacre Sunday morning.

This past Sunday, deputies got into a firefight with a armored gunman who authorities say murdered four people, including a baby, and injured an 11-year-old girl.

“This is an outrageous crime,” DeSantis said. “This guy was totally off his rocker.”

Deputies managed to wound the suspect, identified by Sheriff Grady Judd as a former Marine sharpshooter named Bryan Riley, but not a single law enforcement officer was injured in the exchange. After he was shot, Riley surrendered himself to Lakeland police, Judd said.

DeSantis said tragedies like the Lakeland massacre and the Surfside condominium collapse highlight the importance of supporting first responders and law enforcement agencies across the state.

“These are the folks that you call upon, and they’re there for you time and time again,” he said.

As for Riley, DeSantis said the defendant should be punished to the full extent of the law, calling him a “crazed guy on drugs.”

Riley faces numerous charges, including four counts of first-degree murder. If he were to be found guilty on a single one of those charges, he could face life in prison or execution, as mandated by Florida law.

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