Priest Found Dead Following Weekend Shootout In Florida
A retired Florida priest was likely among those killed in a series of shootings over the weekend, Palm Bay police announced Tuesday.
Police killed Brandon Kapas, 24, during a shootout Sunday in which Kapas shot and killed his grandfather and wounded two officers. Police then traced the car used by Kapas — which was filled with “an arsenal” of weapons — to a home where two additional people were found dead.
Police identified those victims as Robert John Hoeffner, 76, and his sister, Sally Hoeffner, 69. Kapas is suspected of killing them as well.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Palm Bay Police Chief Mario Augello said officers responded to a report of a domestic disturbance around 2:07 p.m., where they were met by Kapas’ uncle.
According to Augello, the uncle told responding officers that others at the scene were having “trouble” with Kapas, adding that he was armed and had more weapons in his car.
Police say they attempted to speak with Kapas as he exited the home, but he refused. Police then tased him, but he was “able to escape,” according to the police statement.
Kapas and police then exchanged gunfire. According to police, Kapas shot two officers, who are both recovering from their injuries. Police say Kapas then fatally shot his grandfather, before officers killed Kapos.
According to Tuesday’s release, the vehicle Kapas had driven to the scene of the crime was registered to an address where they found Father Hoeffner alongside his sister.
Police said investigators could not identify any relationship between Kapas and the Hoeffner siblings, and the motive behind the alleged killings remain unclear.
Kapas’ uncle told local newspaper Florida Today that his family is now mourning the grandfather’s death.
“He was very loving and will be very much missed. Obviously, this is a very traumatic time for us. (Brandon) was my nephew,” the uncle, William Kapas Jr., told Florida Today.
He told the newspaper his family had ties to St. Joseph Catholic Church, where Hoeffner had served as pastor before retiring in 2016.
According to an obituary by the Diocese of Orlando, Hoeffner spent 50 years in priesthood and established a trilingual parish council that “equally represented the Anglo, Hispanic and Filipino communities” in the area during his time at St. Joseph.
“Throughout his priesthood, Father Hoeffner served the people of God with compassion and humility,” Bishop John Noonan said in the statement. “We will miss his grace-filled presence. We know he and his sister are received by the Lord with mercy and love.”
According to data by pro-gun control nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety, Florida has the 30th-highest rate of gun deaths in the U.S., and more than a third of gun deaths in the state are homicides.