4 children, suspect found dead after Orlando hostage situation, police say
(CNN) — One man and four children are dead after a standoff of more than 20 hours, Orlando police Chief John Mina said.
Mina said officers were in contact with Gary Lindsey Jr., directly and indirectly, by phone throughout the day Monday after he shot an officer around 11:45 p.m. Sunday and barricaded himself in an apartment with the four children, ages 1, 6, 10 and 11.
At one point, Mina said, officers tried to give Lindsey another phone because his had a bad connection, and during the exchange they saw that one of the children was dead.
Officers entered the apartment around 9 p.m. Monday, Mina said, and found that all the children held hostage were dead of gunshot wounds. Lindsey’s body was found in a closet, police said.
Mina said two children are believed to be Lindsey’s and two are his girlfriend’s.
“We have no idea when those poor children lost their lives. That will all be part of the investigation,” Mina said. He added that law enforcement had worked all day to bring the standoff to a peaceful resolution, but unfortunately it was a “tragic and sad” ending.
Officers originally responded to a domestic violence call from Lindsey’s girlfriend Sunday, Mina said. Lindsey, 35, shot at officers when they arrived, hitting one, Mina said. Officers returned fire, but Mina said he did not know whether Lindsey was hit. Police said Lindsey’s girlfriend made the initial call after she had left the house.
The officer shot was identified as Kevin Valencia, who has been with the Orlando police since 2016. He remains in critical condition after surgery, Mina said.
Mina told CNN affiliate WFTV that Valencia, who is in his late 20s and has a wife and two boys, was expected to survive.
“He’s extremely strong, and we’re praying for the best,” the police chief said.
Mina said Lindsey has been arrested before for arson and domestic violence battery. Criminal records show Lindsey has been arrested four times for violating his probation, CNN affiliate WKMG reported.
Apartment building resident Nicole Gonzalez told CNN affiliate WESH that Lindsey had always been friendly and helpful to her.
“It’s shocking because when you see him, he’s very cordial, very respectful — you know, ‘Good morning, hi,’ Sometimes if we need help bringing stuff up, he’s willing to help,” she said.
Gonzalez told CNN affiliate Channel 9 about seeing an officer being taken away in an SUV.
“We saw the officers dragging another officer — he was lying on the floor, they were trying to keep him awake — they threw him in the car and drove off,” Gonzalez said.
She said officers then went door-to-door evacuating residents from the scene of the standoff.
“It was around midnight and we were sleeping, and we heard somebody knocking on the door on the second floor,” Lopez told WKMG. “Suddenly somebody opened the door and we just hear, ‘Pow, pow, pow, pow’ — four gunshots.”
Taipa said she saw the wounded officer from their apartment window.
“We saw the police officer laying on the ground with blood and everything,” she said. “It was horrible.”
Police then told the couple it was not safe for them to stay in the building, Lopez said.