Orlando Catholic priest among four killed in Palm Bay shooting

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A retired Catholic priest with the Diocese of Orlando and his sister were among the four people killed in Sunday afternoon shootings in Palm Bay, Florida, according to a diocesan statement.

Father Robert Hoeffner, who celebrated his 50th year in the priesthood last year, was allegedly killed by a 24-year-old man named Brandon Kapas on Sunday, Jan. 28. In addition to Hoeffner and his sister, Sally, the suspected shooter also allegedly killed his grandfather, William Kapas, and one other person whose name has not yet been released.

The shooting of Hoeffner and his sister took place at a different location than the shooting of Kapas’ grandfather and the person who has not yet been identified. The motive for the shootings is still unclear.

Police shot and killed the alleged gunman on Sunday after he shot at police and injured two officers, according to Palm Bay Police Chief Mariano Augello, who addressed the incidents in a news conference. Both officers “are going to survive,” Augello said. 

Bishop John Noonan issued a statement mourning “the tragic loss of these four lives” and said “we pray for the repose of their souls and extend our prayers to their families.” 

“Father Robert ‘Bob’ Hoeffner and his sister, Sally, both were tragically murdered yesterday,” Noonan said in a statement provided to CNA by the Diocese of Orlando. 

“Throughout his priesthood, Father Hoeffner served the people of God with compassion and humility,” Noonan said.

“We will miss his grace-filled presence. We know he and his sister are received by the Lord with mercy and love. We also pray for the two police officers who were injured yesterday and for our public servants who safeguard our community and extend our gratitude to them during this difficult time,” he said.

Hoeffner served as the pastor at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Palm Bay before his retirement. 

Following the shootings, Augello applauded his officers and said the alleged gunman’s death was a result of his own actions.

“Two of our officers were shot today as a result of doing their job and that’s to protect and serve our community and the members and our citizens of Palm Bay,” Augello said. “We will not tolerate anybody raising their guns or [using] any type of lethal force or aggression toward our police officers.”

This is a developing story.

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