Florida prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a former Marine sharpshooter who allegedly broke into the home of an innocent family earlier this month, murdering four people, including a 3-month-old boy in his mother’s arms, under the delusion that the victims were child sex traffickers.
In its notice of intent Friday, the State Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit described several aggravating factors that could justify the death penalty for 33-year-old Bryan Riley of Brandon, The Ledger reported.
During the early morning hours of Sept. 5, Riley went into two different homes on the same property off of North Socrum Loop Road in north Lakeland and shot and killed a 62-year-old woman, a family dog, a 26-year-old woman, her 3-month-old baby boy whom she was holding at the time, and the woman’s 40-year-old boyfriend, Justice Gleason, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a previous statement.
Riley also shot an 11-year-old girl multiple times. She was critically injured but survived.
Gleason’s family gave the sheriff’s office permission to use his name, but the other victims’ family members do not want their names released, per Marsy’s Law, the statement said.
Earlier last week, Riley was indicted by a Polk County grand jury on 22 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of kidnapping, one count of aggravated child abuse, two counts of burglary, seven counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, one count of animal cruelty, one count of arson, two counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling, and two counts of shooting within an occupied dwelling, State Attorney Brian Haas announced.
A grand jury’s 22-count indictment was filed Tuesday in Polk County Circuit Court against Bryan Riley, who allegedly murdered four people and wounded an 11-year-old girl.
(Polk County Sheriff’s Office)
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd previously said Riley falsely believed the family was involved in child sex trafficking and that he had been told by God to rescue a purported child victim named “Amber.” There was no child by that name at the home. Riley chanced upon the family after seeing a man mowing his lawn with a young girl in the yard he thought might be the trafficking victim, Judd said.
Riley, wearing body armor, had three weapons with him and fired at least 100 shots in the main home and a smaller one in back where the grandmother lived, officials said. Officers fired about 60 shots in a gun battle that left Riley with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Riley surrendered after that.
“Over Labor Day weekend, on Sunday morning, 4:20 a.m. in the morning, an evil man committed a mass murder when he charged into a house and killed four people, including a three-month-old baby. In addition to that, he tortured and shot an 11-year-old little girl as many as seven times,” Judd said in a Sept. 10 video asking for donations to cover hospital bills and funeral costs. “It’s total devastation.”
There was no relationship between the victims and Riley, Judd said. Riley is being held without bail and has not yet entered a plea to the charges.
Riley served as a Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan and was working as a security guard, including at a church near Orlando. After that recent job, his girlfriend of four years told investigators Riley began talking about communication with God but not about violence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.