LAKELAND, Fla. â€” Miguel Rivera, 50, said he was awakened at 4 a.m. Sunday by someone banging on his back sliding glass door.Â
â€œI was kind of scared â€” I was thinking, ‘Who could be knocking on my glass door?’â€ Rivera said. Â â€œI just didnâ€™t open the door.Â I stood there waiting to see if they would knock again.â€
About 20 minutes later, he heard gunshots coming from behind his home. He called 911.Â
Once Polk County sheriffâ€™s deputies arrivedÂ several minutes later, a shootout began.Â
What Rivera heard was a man police say wasÂ 33-year-old Bryan James Riley, a U.S. Marine veteran, breaking into the home across a wooded lotÂ andÂ randomlyÂ killing four members of the same family â€” Justice Gleason, 40,Â his girlfriendÂ Theresa Lanham, 33, the coupleâ€™s 3-month-old son, and Lanhamâ€™sÂ mother,Â 62-year-old Cathy Delgado.Â
Delgado was found in a small home behind the main house.Â Gleason andÂ Lanham wereÂ foundÂ in the main house, with LanhamÂ holding the baby.
The Polk County Sheriffâ€™s Office released Gleasonâ€™s name. The Ledger, part of the USA TODAY Network,Â confirmed the names of LanhamÂ and her mother through Facebook.
Riley, who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, is charged with four counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder and seven counts of attempted murder on a law enforcement officer. According to affidavit, he admitted everything to investigators and said he didn’t know the victims.Â
A judge ruled Monday he will be held without bail.
Meanwhile, investigators on Monday were still gathering evidence inside and outside the home. Rileyâ€™s truck, which was on fire when police arrived early Sunday, remained to the left side of theÂ single-story, whiteÂ cinder-blockÂ house. Belongings that appeared to have been gathered from the carport and front porch, including a bench and chairs, were still piled in front of the front door.
Investigators say Riley also shot Lanhamâ€™s 11-year-old daughter multiple times.Â She was rushed to Tampa General Hospital for surgery, where she was in critical but stable condition Monday,Â sheriff’s officials said.Â
According to the arrest affidavit, the girl told investigators that Riley entered their home and asked for â€œAmber,â€ and then shot everyone inside, including the familyâ€™s shepherdÂ Diogi.
Suspect had no connection to family, authorities say
Polk County Sheriff Grady JuddÂ said Sunday that Riley had â€œzero connectionâ€ to the family and that Riley told investigators that he chose the family because GodÂ told him a girl at the house named Amber was going to kill herself.Â
It began with an incident Saturday evening, when Riley spotted Gleason mowing his yard, pulled up in his truck,Â and toldÂ GleasonÂ that God wanted him to speak to Amber.Â Judd said that Gleason told Riley an Amber did not live at the house and that he’d call police if Riley didn’t leave.Â
TheÂ familyÂ called 911, andÂ Judd said aÂ deputy spent about 20 minutes looking for Riley,Â butÂ heÂ was gone.Â
Judd said that Riley then went to his home in Brandon, Florida, and told hisÂ fiancÃ©eÂ that God was telling him to â€œtalk to Amber.â€ TheÂ fiancÃ©eÂ told investigators that Riley had been talking about having conversations with God for the previous weekÂ after workingÂ security at an Orlando church.Â Â
HisÂ fiancÃ©eÂ said they had an argument and heÂ locked himself in a room.Â When she woke up, he was gone.
Judd said the fiancÃ©e, whose name was not released, is cooperating with investigators.
Riley returned to the homeÂ in the early morning hours SundayÂ and the first 911 calls started coming in at 4:23 a.m., with neighbors telling emergency operators that thereÂ had been a shooting.Â
A neighbor’s backyard security camera pickedÂ up the moment gunfire is first heard.
Lt.Â Duane Tompkins, a 17-year veteran with the Polk County Sheriffâ€™s Office,Â arrived at the house first and found the suspectâ€™s truckÂ on fire. Glow sticks linedÂ the path from the road to the houseÂ and to another home behind the main residence.Â Tompkins heardÂ popping sounds coming from theÂ truck and then saw a figure inÂ theÂ frontÂ yard, wearingÂ camouflage.Â
He â€œlooked as if he was ready to engage us all in an active shooter situation, but we didnâ€™t see a firearm,â€ Judd said. “…It appeared that he had bullet proof vests on and he immediately ran back into this house. We didnâ€™t know who he was.â€Â
Tompkins then â€œheard another volley and a woman scream and a baby whimper,â€ Judd said.Â According to the arrest affidavit, that is when Riley shot Gleason, Lanham, the baby and the 11-year-old.Â
The front door was blocked so Tompkins ran to the back of the home. That’s when the suspect shot at Tompkins, who returned fire and backed out of the house, Judd said.
According to the affidavit, Riley then went into a second residenceÂ on the property and shot Delgado, whom he found hiding in a closet.Â
After, theÂ gunman began firing into the front yard, pinning down three deputies outside, Judd said.Â A Lakeland police officer provided cover so the deputies could escape.
Finally, the gunfire stopped.
Deputies in the sheriffâ€™s helicopter, circling overhead, saw a man come out with his hands raised. He was handcuffed and taken to a nearby high school where an ambulance was waiting. Riley had been shot once.Â
After Riley was arrested,Â Sgt. Tyrees GrahamÂ heard the 11-year-old girl calling for help and he rushed inside to get her before.Â
Friends mourn loss of the family
Gleason and Lanham first noted their relationship with a photo onÂ FacebookÂ in March 2020. He has his arm around her shoulder and she is embracing him and kissing his cheek. He is smiling from ear to ear.Â
More photos of the happy couple followed. Then inÂ April 2021, the couple held up a onesie at a baby shower. Their daughter was born a month later.Â
Friends were leaving heartbroken messages to the family on Facebook by Sunday afternoon.Â
“May you and your beautiful wife Theresa and baby rest in peace with our Lord. You will be missed!â€ Carolyn Chistian wrote. â€œYou were such a good man and friend to everyone. Praying God comforts your family and everyone that knew you all.â€Â
Pansy Mincey Smith told The Ledger that she had gone to school with Gleasonâ€™s father, Joe, who died several years ago.Â
â€œRIP Justice Gleason.Â The last time I saw you, you were getting on the elevator at the hospital,â€ Smith wrote onÂ Facebook.Â â€œYou were smiling from ear to ear about your new little baby boy, you had that bigÂ teddybearÂ forÂ him. This is so heartbreaking, son.â€Â
State Attorney Brian Haas was on hand for two press conferences Sunday, noting that the family and the community are victims of this shooting.Â
“The big question I have on my mind is, why,â€ Haas said.Â â€œItâ€™s so frustrating that we willÂ not know the why todayÂ â€”Â maybe ever.â€
Ledger reporter Kimberly C. Moore can be reached atÂ email@example.comÂ or 863-802-7514. Follow her on Twitter at @KMooreTheLedger.Â