Four children, suspect found dead after Orlando hostage situation, police say
(CNN) — One man and four children are dead after an over 20-hour standoff, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a press conference Monday.
Mina said officers were in contact with Gary Lindsey Jr., directly and indirectly, by phone throughout the day after he shot an officer Sunday night around 11:45 p.m. 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, and during the exchange 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. 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, Chief John Mina said. Lindsey shot at officers when they arrived, hitting one, Mina said. Officers shot back, 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 Department since 2016, remains critical condition after surgery, Mina said.
Mina said Lindsey has been arrested for arson and domestic violence battery before. Criminal records show Lindsey has been arrested four times for violating his probation, CNN affiliate WKMG-TV reported.
Apartment building resident Nicole Gonzalez told CNN affiliate WESH that Lindsey had been friendly and helpful when she had encountered him previously.
“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 described to CNN affiliate Channel 9 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 taking residents away from the scene of the standoff.
WKMG spoke to building residents Maria Tapia and Miguel Lopez — who were among those forced to leave.
“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 gun shots.”
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.