Orlando, FL – The bodies of the four young children brutally murdered during a hostage standoff were found lying on their beds in their pajamas.
“Based on the condition of the victims’ bodies at the time of discovery, coupled with a thorough review of the investigation so far regarding this case, OPD Homicide Detectives believe the children were killed while they slept, either shortly before or shortly after the suspect’s initial encounter with OPD Officers,” the Orlando Police Department said in a press release on Thursday.
Each of them had been shot, WKMG reported.
The bodies of the children – 12-year-old Irayan Pluth, 10-year-old Lillia Pluth, 6-year-old Aidan Lindsey, and 1-year-old Dove Lindsey – were discovered at approximately 9 p.m. on Monday, following a 21-hour standoff with 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr.
Lindsey was found dead inside a closet with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, WKMG reported.
The tragic incident began at 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, when Ciara Lopez fled from her apartment and called police from a nearby store to report that she had been battered by Lindsey, who was her boyfriend.
Lopez told police that Lindsey had all four of her children – two of whom were also his – in the apartment with him.
When police attempted to get into the apartment, Lindsey was waiting on the other side and fired through the door, shooting Orlando Police Officer Kevin Valencia in the eye, WFTV reported.
Officer Valencia was rushed to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery, the Associated Press reported.
He remained in a coma in critical condition on Wednesday night, but has shown signs of responsiveness, one of his trauma surgeons said.
During the standoff that ensued, police attempted to negotiate with Lindsey by cell phone and through his friends and family in order to secure a safe release for the children.
Investigators did not hear any children in the background during the conversations, and Lindsey never indicated that he planned to hurt the kids, Chief Mina said, according to WKMG.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., police made the decision to breach the apartment’s windows in order to communicate with Lindsey more easily.
They then saw one of the children’s bodies.
SWAT officers forced their way into the residence and found the bodies of Lindsey and the other three children.
During a Wednesday night news conference, Officer Valencia’s wife offered her tearful condolences to the families of the murdered children.
“In the middle of the night, officers came to my and they woke me up…and told me that my husband had been shot trying to save some kids,” Meghan Valencia said through sobs.
“I’m a mom, and I can even imagine what they’re going through,” Meghan said of the children’s families. “It is more than what anybody can bear.”
Meghan, whose sons are five years old and eight months old, said that all of her husband’s fellow officers were struggling in the wake of the incident.
“I know every officer wanted to get those children out,” she said. “Each and every single one of them feels the weight of the world because they couldn’t.”
Family friend and attorney Walter Benenati said that Lopez “is in just complete shock,” People reported. “Right now, she is angry and that will turn to grief that nobody can even fathom.”
Benenati said that Irayan was a “very bright young kid” who loved video games, while Lillia enjoyed playing with her friends and visits to Disney World.
Aidan was passionate about dinosaurs and 22-month-old Dove “was just a young beautiful boy who loved to play,” he said.
Benenati has established a fundraising campaign to assist Lopez with funeral expenses in the wake of her inconceivable loss.