A schoolgirl who was shot by an ex-marine ‘war hero’, managed to survive by playing dead, while the shooter murdered her family.
Former marine, Bryan Riley, 33, is being held on four counts of first-degree murder after police say he broke into a home in Florida, on Sunday, September 5, and killed four people, including a baby.
His victims were the girl’s dad, Justice Gleason, 40, his girlfriend, Theresa Lanham, 33, their baby son Jody, and Lanham’s mum, Catherine Delgado, 62.
Riley is also accused of seriously wounding the 11-year-old girl and killing the family’s dog, the Sun reports.
A family statement said the girl has already undergone four surgeries to repair 10 wounds but is alert, reading, writing, and generally in good spirits, while a GoFundMe page has also been set up to help her financially.
Sheriff Grady Judd said: "She did tell some of her relatives who told us how she did survive. She said, ‘I played dead and I prayed'."
Police said Riley had no connection to the family and was not from the area.
According to the Washington Post, he is said to have told the police that he’s “a sick guy” and confessed to the crimes.
Riley reportedly first made contact with his victims on Saturday evening, September 4.
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He pulled up outside the family home in Lakeland and told Gleason that God had instructed him to stop, because Gleason’s daughter “Amber” was going to kill herself.
Gleason didn’t have a daughter named “Amber” and the police were called – but they couldn’t find any trace of Riley.
According to Sheriff Judd, Riley returned home to his girlfriend and told her God had sent him a message to stop Gleason’s daughter’s suicide.
Judd said: "He didn’t threaten violence. He never said I’m going to come back and shoot and do this and that.
"He confessed later and told us, ‘You know, he made me really mad, so I went home and created an opps plan, and you know what that means. If you create an opps plan, you have to kill everybody.'
"I will never be able to unsee that mother with that deceased infant in her arms. It is a horror of the utmost magnitude."
Riley returned to Gleason’s home at around 4:30am the next morning, allegedly laying out glowsticks to create a path leading to the house to draw officers “into an ambush,” Judd said.
A lieutenant responding to a separate call around two minutes away, heard what he thought was automatic gunfire and immediately called for backup, with officers arriving soon after.
They found a white truck on fire in the driveway and an unarmed man (identified as Riley) dressed in camouflage.
He immediately ran inside when he saw the officers and they heard another round of gunfire, followed by a woman screaming and a baby whimpering.
Officers tried to enter the home, but the front door was barricaded, before making their way to the back, where they found Riley in full body armour.
He’s then accused of shooting at the lieutenant who first arrived on the scene and started firing at other officers once the lieutenant had escaped.
According to his affidavit, the ex-marine told police that he shot the baby because he’s “a sick guy” and wanted “to confess to all of it and be sent to jail.”
He also told officers that his victims begged him to stop amid the shooting spree.
Riley’s girlfriend apparently told investigators that he had been slowly unravelling for weeks, repeatedly telling her that he could speak with God.
Sheriff Judd said that Riley, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2010s, seemed to have targeted his victims at random and appeared to be suffering from mental health issues.
"He went there on a mission to kill all of those wonderful people, and he killed all but one."
"This guy, prior to this morning, was a war hero," adding that he's not a "traditional criminal" who had virtually no criminal history.
"And this morning, he's a cold, calculated murderer.”
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