Priest, sister killed in Florida shooting
Retired priest among victims of Florida shooting that left 4 dead. Credit: Weapons and mugshot: Palm Bay Police Department
A Florida community is in mourning after a beloved Catholic priest and his sister were found murdered over the weekend in Palm Bay, the Diocese of Orlando confirmed in a statement Monday afternoon.
The Bishop of Orlando, Most Reverend John Noonan, confirmed the identity of the two killed as retired St. Joseph Catholic Community priest Father Robert “Bob” Hoeffner, 76, and his sister, Sally Joan Hoeffner, 69.
“We mourn with the St. Joseph Catholic community in Palm Bay over the tragic loss of these four lives as we pray for the repose of their souls and extend our prayers to their families. I share with you that Father Robert “Bob” Hoeffner and his sister, Sally, both were tragically murdered,” Reverend Noonan wrote.
“Throughout his priesthood, Father Hoeffner served the people of God with compassion and humility. We will miss his grace-filled presence,” Reverend Noonan continued.
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St. Joseph Catholic Community priest Father Robert “Bob” Hoeffner, 76, was shot and killed. (Palm Bay Police Department)
The shooting happened after a domestic disturbance at a birthday party Sunday afternoon in Palm Bay, a city roughly 75 miles southeast of Orlando.
Palm Bay Police said the suspect, Brandon Kapas, 24, shot his grandfather to death. While responding to the scene, officers also located the bodies of Father Bob and his sister.
When officers arrived, they were met by Kapas’ uncle, who told law enforcement they were having problems with Kapas and that he may have weapons on him and inside his vehicle, Palm Bay Police Chief Mariano Augello said during a news conference Monday afternoon.
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Palm Bay Police found a cache of weapons in the suspected shooter’s car. (Palm Bay Police Department)
Due to the suspect being possibly armed, police said they tased Kapas to prevent anything drastic from happening, which led to a brief struggle between Kapas and the officers, the chief said.
Police believe Kapas was responsible for all three deaths, and he was fatally shot by police following a brief pursuit Sunday.
Officers said the car Brandon Kapas was driving contained several other guns and weapons inside, leading them to believe he may have had a larger attack planned.
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The Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church community in Palm Bay Florida is mourning the loss of one of their own, Father Robert “Bob” Hoeffner, and his sister Sally, who were shot and killed over the weekend. (Fox 35 Orlando)
The car Brandon Kapas was driving was owned by the priest and his sister, police said, though they were not able to identify the relationship between Kapas and the Hoeffners.
Officers added that Kapas’ criminal history consisted of DUI and resisting arrested.
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Palm Bay Police say the suspect, Brandon Kapas, shot his grandfather to death. While responding to the scene, they also found the bodies of retired St. Joseph Catholic Community Father Robert “Bob” Hoeffner and his sister. (Palm Bay Police Department)
Police said a motive for the shootings remain unknown, and the investigation is ongoing.
The two injured officers, Stephen Ball and Nicholas Franze, are expected to recover, officials said during a press conference on Tuesday.