ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A man who police say shot an officer before barricading himself in a Florida apartment killed the four children he had been holding hostage before killing himself, police said Monday.
Orlando police Chief John Mina said at a press conference just before midnight that the suspect, who was identified as 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., was found dead in a closet when officers entered the apartment nearly 24 hours after the standoff began.
Mina said officers tried to offer one of their phones to Lindsey, whose phone had spotty service, and saw that one of the children had been killed. Authorities entered the apartment around 9 p.m. hoping to rescue the others but all were found dead.
The children with Lindsey ranged in age from 1 to 11, Mina said. The Orlando Sentinel reports two of them were Lindsey's children and two belonged to his girlfriend, who called police Sunday.
Officers responding to a domestic violence report were fired upon, police said. Officer Kevin Valencia was shot and was in critical condition but is expected to survive, Mina said Monday. One officer was able to return fire, the police chief said.
Valencia is in his late 20s and has been with the police department since 2016, Mina said.
Court records show Lindsey, 35, had an extensive criminal history involving arson, battery and theft. He was on probation for several charges including arson.
Judy Pepper, who lives in the apartment complex, told the Sentinel that she had fallen asleep on the couch after watching a Sunday night baseball game on television when she heard four loud gunshots.
"It just went, 'Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,'" Pepper said.
She looked out the window and saw three people carrying a police officer onto the grass. She said other officers arrived, cut open his shirt and appeared to be putting bandages on his neck. Then, they put him in a patrol car and sped away.
"Hell, yes, I was absolutely terrified," she said.
Officers evacuated other residents of the complex in the middle of the night. Some were milling around nearby restaurant parking lots Monday morning, still wearing pajamas. They were later taken to a hotel.
The standoff also disrupted the routines of residents who lived in neighboring apartment communities. About five blocks from the apartment, two police squad cars blocked the entrance to the street. Residents of the neighboring apartment complexes had to show identification and be escorted by the police. Several firetrucks lined the road.
This story has been edited to correct the ages of the children, which range from 1 to 11.
Freida Frisaro in Miami, John Raoux in Orlando, and Michelle A. Monroe in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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With every hour concerns grow for the safety of four young children being held hostage in an apartment in Orlando.
Police say Gary Lindsey Jr., 35, shot an officer when they tried to take him into custody for allegations of domestic violence.
He's been barricaded in the apartment with the children since late Sunday night.
"We just want Mr. Lindsey to peacefully end this and release those four children," said Chief John Mina, Orlando Police Department.
Chief Mina said officers met with Lindsey's girlfriend who said he had become violent with her.
When officers went to take Lindsey into custody Sunday night, police say he shot at officers, critically injuring Officer Kevin Valencia.
"All of our officers are shaken up, are very emotional," said Chief Mina.
The Chief said Officer Valencia is in his late 20s and has been with the department for two years.
He had to undergo surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Another officer returned fire, Chief Mina said, but police do not believe anyone was hit.
Chief Mina said right now the focus is getting Lindsey to release the four children, ages 1, 7, 10, and 12.
"We know they have been in there since 11:45 last night and again, urging him to let the situation come to a peaceful resolution," said the Chief.
Neighbors have been kept out of their apartments for hours as command centers, SWAT hostage negotiators and dozens of police cars surround Westbrook Apartments which is located a little over a mile away from Universal Studios.
"We thought that maybe we would be able to get back in, but no," said Jeanne Kelly.
Chief Mina said Lindsey has not indicated a need for food or water for the children.
He believes the children are alive, but does not know about their welfare.