A man accused of shooting an Orlando police officer and holding four children hostage has killed the children and himself, marking the end of a standoff that lasted nearly 24 hours, authorities said late Monday.
The children were found shot to death in a west Orlando apartment complex just north of Universal Studios, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a news conference. Their ages ranged from 1 to 11 years old, police said. The man, identified by police as 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., was located in a closet, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Mina said.
Lindsey, Mina said, was a felon on probation who had previously been arrested on charges of domestic violence and arson.
Speaking to reporters, Mina said both the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office had been “working very hard during this long day to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution.”
“Unfortunately, it has a very tragic and sad ending,” he said.
The standoff began late Sunday night when officers responded to a domestic violence call about 11:45, Mina said at an earlier briefing Monday afternoon. He said a woman had called to report being beaten by Lindsey, who was her boyfriend.
When police approached the apartment, Mina said, Lindsey started shooting, critically wounding one of the officers. Police returned fire, but there was “no indication of anyone being hurt inside,” Mina said. The injured officer was identified as Kevin Valencia. As of early Tuesday morning, Mina said, Valencia was still in critical condition.
Judy Pepper, who lives in the unit just below Lindsey, told the Orlando Sentinel that she was awoken by four loud gunshots. She said she heard screaming and saw police carry the injured officer to the grass. Pepper and other residents in the apartment complex were relocated to a nearby McDonald’s and then to a Holiday Inn, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
“I was absolutely terrified,’’ Pepper said. “It just startled me awake, and I had no idea what was going on.’’
After shooting at the officers, Lindsey barricaded himself in the apartment along with the children, two of whom were his and the other two belonging to the woman, Mina said.
Throughout Monday, Mina said, his officers had maintained “direct and indirect” contact with Lindsey but lost their connection about 8:30 p.m. When attempting to deliver a phone to Lindsey, Mina said, police observed that one of the children appeared to be “obviously deceased,” prompting them to devise a plan to enter the apartment and “try and rescue the rest of the children.”
A loud boom was reportedly heard at the apartment complex about 9 p.m., according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Once inside, officers discovered the bodies, Mina said.
“We have no idea when those poor children lost their lives,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the families of those four children.”