WINTER HAVEN — Authorities say William Reiss likely let his killer into his home because he trusted him, having seen the man just a couple of months earlier as a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency assessing property damage from Hurricane Irma.

Reiss, 68, fatally misplaced his trust, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference announcing the arrest of three Mobile, Ala., men charged with the Polk City man’s Jan. 3 killing.

Arrested on 19 felony counts were Gerjuan Demarcus Jackson, 18, whom the Sheriff's Office says is the trigger man; and Kenley Campbell and Darril Lamar Rankin Jr., both 22.

Each faces single counts of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, armed burglary with assault and battery, robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon, burglary of a conveyance and grand theft of a motor vehicle, plus 13 counts of grand theft of a firearm in connection with the shooting of Reiss and his housemate, Kenneth Maier, 57, in their Polk City residence at 7562 Berkley Road.

Judd said none of the three men had a serious criminal record previously.

“These people did not meet the mold of the people you would normally think of as vicious, cold-blooded, calculated killers, but that’s what they are,” the sheriff said.

Maier was still in “tremendously critical condition” at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center, Judd said.

“He’s hanging onto life.”

Reiss’s daughter, Katrina Urso of Tampa, also spoke briefly at the news conference. She expressed her appreciation to the Sheriff’s Office for making arrests less than a week after her father’s death.

Urso described her father as a kind man and a good grandfather.

“He was the biggest teddy bear. He wouldn’t hurt anyone,” she said.

Urso said she wasn’t upset at FEMA that Jackson had used his connection with the agency to gain her father’s trust.

“It makes more sense,” she said. “He (Reiss) was a smart man. He wouldn’t have let anyone in.”

According to Judd, Reiss met Jackson shortly after Hurricane Irma in September. Jackson was working for a FEMA contractor, Vanguard Emergency Management, to assess storm damage claims.

Vanguard did not return a phone message from Direct Gates on Wednesday.

Investigators have not found anything in the 18-year-old’s background that qualified him to do damage assessments, Judd said.

During that first encounter, Jackson learned Reiss was a private gun dealer with a couple dozen firearms in the home, Judd said. Two weeks later, Jackson returned and purchased two .45-caliber handguns for $800.

Urso said her father had been selling firearms privately for many years and that he was always careful about who he sold to. Judd confirmed Reiss obtained and sold guns legally.

“He had no way of knowing when he sold those two guns for $800, that man would come back and murder him and try to murder Kenneth (Maier),” Judd said.

Judd said that when Jackson returned to his hometown, Mobile, he told his friends, Campbell and Rankin, about Reiss and his gun collection, and they set out Jan. 3 to steal the firearms.

Along the way, Jackson told his friends he intended to kill Reiss, Judd said.

The men arrived at the Polk City residence about 1:30 p.m., and Jackson went to the door while the other two men waited in the car, Judd said. Reiss apparently allowed Jackson in because he recognized him as a FEMA contractor and from the earlier sale.

With Reiss sitting in a chair, Jackson pulled out a .25-caliber handgun and shot him four times in the head and once in the hand, Judd said.

When Maier heard the gunshots, he came rushing into the room. Jackson shot him four times in the head and the shoulder, believing he was dead, Judd said.

The three men took 20 to 25 firearms and a flat screen TV from the residence. When all the stolen goods would not fit into the trunk of their car, a Chevrolet Sonic, the men put some of the items into Reiss’s pickup truck and drove back to Mobile, Judd said.

Investigators were able to track the movement of the vehicles through surveillance videos from local homes and residences.

“We cannot say enough good things about the residents and businesses of this county,” he said. “It was an amazing piece of work by our detectives.”

Judd declined to say how long investigators were able to track the vehicles on the journey back to Mobile, but he did say they identified Campbell, the Sonic’s owner, through the license plate.

Shortly after the three men left, Maier was able to make his way to the road and flag down three “good Samaritan” drivers, who reported the incident.

With the help of the Mobile Police Department, Sheriff’s Office investigators identified all three men.

Campbell and Rankin were arrested Jan. 6, and they confessed to their involvement in the shootings, identifying Jackson as the trigger man, Judd said.

When U.S. Marshals arrested Jackson three days later, he also confessed, Judd said, even admitting to shooting Reiss and Maier.

Investigators have recovered three firearms that were definitively linked to Reiss and three other guns still being traced, Judd said. Jackson told them he had already sold several of them on the street.

Detectives also found blood-stained clothing apparently worn by the men during the incident and traces of blood in the Sonic.

“It’s a great case, and it’s going to get better once we get the science back,” Judd said.

Judd said he didn't blame FEMA or Vanguard, the contractor, for failing to do an adequate background check.

There was no record of violent criminal behavior on Jackson as an adult, Judd said, and his juvenile records cannot be released, even to law enforcement, under Alabama law.

“Certainly Gerjuan (Jackson) was an aberration. Certainly most of the FEMA people were honest people trying to help,” he said.

According to the Sheriff’s Office statement, Jackson’s adult record has a Nov. 17 arrest for carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and promoting prison contraband. That came after his FEMA work in Florida.

Campbell’s record includes 2016 arrests from using fraudulent credit cards and violating probation while Rankin’s record includes a 2014 probation violation and arrest last year for shoplifting, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest.

All three men are being held in the Mobile County Metro Jail pending extradition to Polk.

Kevin Bouffard can be reached at kevin.bouffard@directgates.com or at 863-401-6980.