DEVELOPING: Orlando Officer Shot, Four Children Taken Hostage
Orlando, FL – A police officer was shot and four children were taken hostage in an incident that began just before midnight on Sunday.
Police responded to a call from a woman who said her boyfriend had battered her at about 11:45 p.m. on Sunday night at Westbrook Apartments on Eaglesmere Drive, according to Orlando Police Chief John Mina.
When police attempted to take the suspect into custody, he opened fire on officers. Officers returned fire, and one officer was struck by the suspect’s bullets, the Orlando Sentinel reported. It was not known if the suspect was hit during the exchange of gunfire.
Chief Mina said the suspect barricaded himself inside the apartment with four children – ages one, seven, 10 and 12 – as hostages, WKMG reported.
SWAT has been on the scene trying to negotiate with the suspect for several hours.
The chief said the suspect has talked to them a couple of time, and has hung up on them a couple of times.
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 officer was transported to Orlando Medical Center where he underwent surgery and remains in serious condition.
“We’ve been through this before,” Chief Mina said. “It’s hard. It’s very traumatic when your officer is shot in the line of duty.”
“It is a very serious, significant injury,” the chief said. “He is expected to survive.”
Thomas Newmann, an Orange County correctional employee who had come to the hospital with a thin blue line flag to support the officers, said he knew the officer who had been shot and that he had been on the Orlando Police Department for two years.
“There need to be more people present because I think morale is low,” Newmann told the Orlando Sentinel. “The more people that show, it gives officers a feeling of worth, satisfaction, purpose.”
“There’s things that [officers] do, out of their own pocket, out of their own time, out of their own duty that people would be shocked if they knew,” he said.
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