The Palm Bay shooter may have had plans to carry out a larger event, the police chief says
The 24-year-old man killed after shooting two Palm Bay police officers and fatally wounding his grandfather on Sunday was driving a car filled with a cache of handguns and other weapons that may have been part of a larger planned attack, Palm Bay police said. The president said.
The car, which police seized after the shootout that left gunman Brandon Capas dead, was traced to its owners, retired Catholic priest Robert Hoefner and his sister, Sally Hoefner. Both were shot and killed by Capas earlier at their northwest Palm Bay home, Police Chief Mariano Augello said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“It is not known what his intentions were, as he appeared with an arsenal of weapons,” Augello said.
“The actions of our officers yesterday prevented something more tragic from happening.”
This is the second major shooting incident in Palm Bay in less than two weeks, and Augello shared details about the two different local tragedies in the city of about 125,000 people.
Surrounded by his leadership staff in the City Council chambers, Augello said the case will impact not only the families involved, but countless people who knew Father Hofner.
He said the agency is searching for a motive in the killings of Hoffner, who retired from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Palm Bay in 2016, and his sister. Several Kappas work in the congregation.
Augello described Hoffner as “one of the pillars of the community.”
A birthday party ends in tragedy
Palm Bay Patrol officers were called around 2:07 p.m. Sunday to the Cappas’ home at 473 Forgal Street.
Augello said officers arrived around 2:19 p.m. and immediately met with his uncle, who told them that Capas, his nephew, was at home while celebrating a family birthday. The uncle told police that Capas may have been armed. At that moment, Cappas exited the home and began speeding away “while Palm Bay officers attempted to speak to him,” Augello said.
One of the officers tased Capas and got into a brief struggle before Capas reached for his gun and shot the officers, the chief said.
The gunman’s grandfather, William Capas Sr., tried to intervene but was shot and killed by the suspect, Augello said.
“Grandpa was trying to help,” the chief said.
Police said two officers were also shot, one in the arm and the other in the leg.
The exchange of gunfire continued and the officers returned fire, killing Capas.
Healing injured officers
Augello spent some time Monday visiting the two injured officers, including one who was recovering from surgery and the other, who was scheduled to be released. He said they would release the names of the officers, but the department had not done so as of Monday night.
He praised the two, saying, “No officer wants to discharge a firearm…our officers have to live with that in their minds.” But they are here to protect and serve our community. “They don’t think about it…they’re here to serve.”
The chief also provided some details about Capas and his previous DUI arrests and resisting officer charges.
William Capas Jr., whose father was killed, said family members are expected to issue a statement about the incident at a later date.
“This is obviously very painful for us,” Capas said.
The community mourns the loss of its beloved priest
News of Father Hoffner’s death spread quickly, with Bishop John Noonan, who oversees the 400,000-member Orlando diocese that includes Brevard, issuing a statement about the murders on Monday.
“Throughout his priesthood, Father Hoefner served God’s people with compassion and humility. We will miss his grace-filled presence. Bishop Noonan said in the statement: “We know that the Lord receives him and his sister with mercy and love.”
Hoffner retired after serving as a priest for 43 years and was celebrated by congregants, community leaders and others. Parishioners remember that he was known for his friendly demeanor, sense of humor, the chili pepper he would prepare for the church fair, and his focus on the community.
He also mentored police officers and firefighters through grief incidents, officers and parishioners said.
Augello said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the officer-involved shooting portion of the incident. Palm Bay investigators were reviewing the shooter’s motives, how he obtained the weapons found in the car, and what his intentions were.
An autopsy will be performed on Capas and his three victims. The investigation is ongoing.
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Palm Bay Police Chief: Shooter who killed 3 people had his car full of weapons