In Lakeland, Florida, a former Marine is being held without bond for murdering four people, including a mother and her 3-month-old baby.
The victims include 40-year-old Justice Gleason, a 33-year-old woman and her baby boy, and a 62-year-old woman hiding in a closet who begged him for her life before he killed her. The Polk County Sheriff, Grady Judd, said an 11-year-old girl was also shot seven times, but will likely recover following surgery at Tampa General Hospital.
Yesterday, a Florida judge ordered Bryan Riley, 33, to be held without bail for four individual counts of first degree murder. The other charges he faces are: attempted first degree murder, attempted first degree murder on a law enforcement officer, shooting in an occupied dwelling, armed burglary with battery, arson, and cruelty to an animal for killing a pet dog.
Deadly discussions between a former Marine and God
According to Riley’s fiancée, the man began acting bizarrely when he arrived back from a security detail at an Orlando church. In this case, ‘bizarrely’ means claiming to hold a direct line for communicating with God.
Riley served as a Marine for four years before being honorably discharged and serving another three years in the Reserves, Judd said Sunday. He was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010.
The former Marine was known to abuse methamphetamine, leading some to assume that hallucinations from the drug spurred him to think he could talk with God.
Riley’s fiancée stated that he had begun stockpiling supplies for victims of Hurricane Ida. Which, according to the Associated Press, strangely included $1,000 worth of cigars. Despite this, the mission that God “gave” to the Ex-Marine included something much more ominous than charitable.
Apparently, Riley heard voices informing him that someone by the name of Amber was going to commit suicide in the house that he would later attack. He rushed to the house, presumably to save “Amber” from killing herself. When he arrived, at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday, deputies received a call about him acting suspicious outside of the residence.
Building up to catastrophe
While on the phone with dispatchers, the caller said that Riley shouted out from his car, “God sent me here to speak with one of your daughters, Amber.”
No one at the residence was named Amber. Regardless, Riley would not leave the home and instead spiraled even further. When authorities arrived for the original call, the former Marine was nowhere to be found.
Almost nine hours later, at around 4:30 a.m., a nearby Polk County lieutenant heard bursts of gunfire coming from the area of the original call.
When they arrived on scene, deputies saw Riley outside of the house in full-camouflage without a firearm. Right next to him, a flaming truck crackled in the front yard. Deputies apparently mistook him for someone preparing to go camping or fishing, but quickly realized the mistake when he retreated back inside to find cover.
At this moment, says Sheriff Judd, deputies heard gunshots followed by a woman screaming and a baby whimpering.
When authorities went to enter the house, the front door was barricaded. They immediately attempted to go through the back door, which subsequently prompted a gunfight.
Sheriff Judd said there was tons of shooting and then, “everything went silent.” The suspect, Riley, surrendered by walking out with his hands raised. Switching out of his previous attire, Riley exited wearing a wide array of protective gear, including knee pads and a bulletproof vest.
“I want to confess to all of it and be sent to jail”
The court affidavit alleges that, when asked why he shot the baby, Riley said, “…because I’m a sick guy. I want to confess to all of it and be sent to jail.” While he was being taken to the hospital for his wounds from the shootout, Riley allegedly attempted to grab an officer’s firearm and was sedated as a result.
Even though his explanation is entirely lacking in details, Riley stocked his vehicle with preparations that indicated a great deal of planning. According to authorities, he had various supplies including bleeding control kits.
“At this point in the investigation, we find zero connection between our shooter, our murderer and our victims,” Judd said on Sunday. “It would have been nice if he would have come out with a gun. We would have shot him up a lot. But he didn’t because he was a coward.”