Marine veteran Bryan Riley is accused of killing four in Florida. (Courtesy Polk County Sheriff’s Office).
Bryan Riley, 33, the U.S. Marine veteran who dressed himself in camouflage and reportedly later added full body armor and a bullet proof vest, left his domicile to kill civilians in Lakeland, Polk County Florida Sunday morning. The victims were being considered as random by authorities, based on limited information as of Sunday.
After a fierce gun battle with Riley he surrendered, and officers heard cries for help inside the home, but were unsure whether there were additional shooters and feared the home was booby-trapped. A brave sergeant rushed in and grabbed an 11-year-old girl who had been shot at least seven times. She told deputies that there were three dead people inside.
Deputies sent robots into the home to check for explosives and other traps. When it was clear, they found the bodies of a man identified as Gleason; a 33-year-old mother; a 3-month old baby cradled in its mother’s arms, and the baby’s 62-year-old grandmother in or from a separate home nearby, and the family dog who had also been killed. Authorities released only Gleason’s name, and did not say if or how he was related to the other victims.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the girl was rushed to surgery and was expected to survive.
Judd said Riley was honorably discharged after serving four years, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which quoted Judd as saying Riley served another three years in reserve. He was deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010
Riley’s girlfriend of four years told deputies that he had PTSD and depression but had never been violent, the newspaper reported. She said Riley had been slowly unraveling for weeks and repeatedly told her that he could communicate directly with God. He worked in Tarpon Springs as a security guard.
Judd said that afterwards, during an interrogation, Riley observed, “They begged for their lives and I killed them anyway.” It is unclear from the article whether Riley was remorseful or bragging.
I became interested in U.S. troop suicides recently, both active duty and veterans. There have been four times as many suicides by soldiers and veterans than combat deaths while or after serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other fronts of the War on Terror since 2001, as reported in The Week, referencing USA Today. I initially wondered if Riley was headed for a death-by-cop suicide. Apparently he lived through his slaughtering act, however, which then caused me to reflect that white Riley was not killed, despite being so reportedly aggressive that he tried to grab an officer’s gun while on a guerney in the hospital. I was glad to see that the Military Times seems to be a legitimate news outlet, based on their reporting of this case which was penned by Kelli Kennedy. I refer those interested to check it out for more information.
I’m not quite through looking into troop suicide variables.