Victims in deadly Palm Bay, Fla., shooting included priest, killer’s grandfather

A Florida man who killed three people before dying in a shootout with police had an arsenal in his car and may have been planning a huge attack, authorities said Monday.

Police responded to a call on Sunday about a man causing a disturbance at a family birthday party in Palm Bay, Fla., about 75 miles southeast of Orlando on Florida’s Space Coast. A family member there told police he was armed.

Upon arriving, they confronted 24-year-old Brandon Kapas, who shot at them and wounded two officers, police said at a Monday press conference. As backup was arriving, Kapas fatally shot his grandfather, William Kapas, as he tried to intervene. The other cops then shot Brandon Kapas dead, cops said.

After the shootout, police seized the vehicle the killer had been driving and traced its registration to retired Catholic priest Robert Hoeffner and his sister, Sally Hoeffner. Police went to their home and found them shot to death, as well, concluding that Kapas killed them before heading to the birthday party at his grandfather’s house.

The car was packed with what police described as an arsenal of multiple rifles and handguns. It was unclear why Kapas possessed such a weapons cache or what his relationship was with the Hoeffners.

“It’s unknown what his intentions were, showing up with an arsenal of weapons,” Police Chief Mariano Augello was quoted as saying by Florida Today. “Our officers’ actions yesterday prevented something even more tragic from happening.”

The community was left reeling.

“Throughout his priesthood, Father Hoeffner served the people of God with compassion and humility,” Most Rev. John Noonan, Bishop of Orlando, said in a statement obtained by CNN. “We will miss his grace-filled presence.”

With News Wire Services

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