Orlando, FL – A 23 hour hostage standoff is over with all four child hostages, the suspect dead, and a police officer fighting for his life.
Chief John Mina announced just before midnight Monday night that SWAT officers entered the apartment and found that all four children and the suspect were dead from gunshot wounds.
The last contact officers had with the suspect was around 8:30 - 9:00 p.m. and it's not clear at what time the suspect killed himself and the children.
The children were ages ages one, six, 10, and 11. Two of the children were the suspect's children, and two were his girlfriend's children.
The incident began at 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, when a woman fled from her apartment and called police from a nearby store to report that she had been battered by her boyfriend, Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., 35, the chief explained.
Sources told WFTV that the woman provided officers with keys to the apartment, but that the key broke off in the door lock, prompting officers to attempt to force entry.
Lindsey was waiting on the other side and fired through the door, hitting Officer Valencia in the eye, WFTV reported.
At least one officer returned fire, but it was unknown if Lindsey was hit, Chief Mina said.
Since then, crisis negotiators made repeated attempts to convince Lindsey to release the children, but negotiations broke down and he had begun to “act erratic,” WFTV reported.
A window in the apartment was broken out by SWAT officers earlier in the day, according to WFTV.
Neighbor Judy Pepper told the Orlando Sentinel that she was blown out of bed by the gun battle.
“It just went, ‘Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,’’’ Pepper said.
She said she saw the police carrying an officer out onto the grass in front of her building. She said they cut open his shirt and began working on him right away.
Pepper and other residents were told to vacate the premises and relocated to a McDonald’s nearby, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The chief identified the injured officer as Officer Kevin Valencia, and said he has been with the department since 2016.
Officer Valencia, who is in his “late twenties,” sustained “very significant injuries,” but has undergone surgery and is expected to survive, Chief Mina confirmed.
He was listed in critical condition.
“He’s extremely strong, and we’re praying for the best,” Chief Mina noted.
Chief Mina added that Lindsey had been arrested for domestic violence, battery, and arson in the past.
He was sentenced to 35 years of probation in 2009, after he pleaded no contest to charges of fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and arson for setting fire to a home after an argument with his girlfriend, WFTV reported.
During the altercation, Lindsey grabbed a knife and stabbed the woman’s television, then proceeded to punch the TV with his fists, Heavy reported.
“You need to get the dogs and leave my grave,” he told the woman, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
When she tried to call police, Lindsey broke her phone.
After she fled the residence, Lindsey poured gasoline throughout the home, then set it ablaze.
Lindsey was repeatedly arrested for violation of his probation, to include a 2012 arrest for aggravated battery and aggravated assault stemming from a physical altercation with another woman, WFTV reported.
During that incident, Lindsey allegedly held a knife to the throat of his girlfriend as she was holding their infant son, and threatened to kill her, Heavy reported.
He ultimately dragged her to another room, causing her to drop their baby onto the ground.
The child was not injured, but the woman sustained a cut to her hand as she struggled with Lindsey, Heavy reported.
She ultimately escaped and contacted police, who found her covered in blood.
Lindsey was released from custody after prosecutors failed to file the new charges within 30 days, WFTV reported.