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Florida Marine thought shooting victims were 'sex traffickers,' tortured 11-year-old girl for information: sheriff

Florida Marine thought shooting victims were 'sex traffickers,' tortured 11-year-old girl for information: sheriff

The former Marine accused with murdering a Florida family of four in a brutal mass shooting thought the parents were hiding a victim of sex trafficking, according to police.

Bryan Riley, 33, told police that he "tortured" the lone survivor of the shooting, an 11-year-old girl, in order to find "Amber," a sex crimes victim who doesn't exist, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference Thursday.

"This is all fiction. All made up by him," Judd said. "There was no victim of sex crimes in that house."

The ongoing investigation has finally revealed why Riley, who lives in Brandon, was at the Lakeland home Saturday evening and then again early Sunday morning: he was planning to go out with search teams after Hurricane Ida and a friend, who lived in the area, had offered to make him a first aid kit.

Riley left the friend's home around 7:10 p.m. Saturday and about 20 minutes later was knocking on the door, telling the woman who answered that he was looking for Amber.

Justice Gleason, 40, was out mowing the lawn and told Riley the same thing as the woman: there was no "Amber," according to police.

Riley then went home to Brandon, had a fight with his girlfriend and then left around 1 a.m. in a pickup truck, wearing camo and armed with a backpack.

Upon returning to the house, Riley did "reconnaissance," he told police, repositioning his truck three times for the quickest escape route and determining entrances into the house.

"He planned out his diversions and he prepared his exit strategy," Judd said Thursday.

He set up glowsticks from his truck to the back of the second house, for his escape and so "Amber" could see the way out, and slashed the tires on a sedan and a pickup truck in the driveway.

Wearing a bulletproof vest, Riley allegedly went first to the back house and shot through the door and a back window, then killed the 62-year-old grandmother.

Then he went into the main house, shooting out the back glass door, which he knew was enough noise to wake up the family, according to police.

"God told me I was protected," Riley told police, according to Judd.

He shot the family dog twice then began shooting into the bathroom, where Gleason had hidden his 33-year-old partner, their 3-month-old baby boy and their 11-year-old daughter.

Riley eventually made it into the bathroom and killed Gleason, the woman and the baby, who was still in his mother's arms. He then dragged the 11-year-old girl into the living room and repeatedly asked her where Amber was, she told police in an interview from her hospital room.

When she told him there was no Amber, he allegedly counted down from three, then shot her in the thigh. Then he did it again and shot her again.

He "tortured her" repeatedly, Judd said.

"Do you know why I killed your parents?" Riley allegedly asked the girl. "They're sex traffickers."

Eventually, the girl played dead and Riley, thinking he had "eliminated" her, got into a shootout with deputies, during which he was shot in the side of his stomach through his bulletproof vest.

He retreated into the baby's nursery, treated the gunshot with QuikClot, then surrendered to police.

"He looks like a man but he's not a man," Judd said. "He's a sniveling coward."

Riley has been charged with four counts of first degree murder, seven counts of attempted first degree murder of law enforcement officers, cruelty to an animal, shooting into a building, arson and burglary. He was denied bond Monday.

The 11-year-old girl has undergone four surgeries so far and remains in intensive care.