ORLANDO, Fla. – A nearly 24-hour standoff with a man suspected of shooting an Orlando police officer ended in tragedy late Monday, when police discovered the bodies of the gunman and four children he held as hostages, authorities said.
Authorities identified the gunman as 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., a felon who was on probation for arson and other charges. Orlando police Chief John Mina said Lindsey had apparently shot the children before taking his own life, reported Orlando Sentinel. The children were ages 1, 6, 10 and 11. Their names have not been released.
“We have no idea when those children lost their lives,” Mina told reporters late Monday.
The standoff began after officers responded about 11:45 p.m. Sunday to a woman who reported being battered by Lindsey at the Westbrook Apartments, police said. The woman fled from the second-story apartment to a nearby restaurant on Kirkman Road to call police.
When officers sought to take Lindsey into custody at the apartment, a shootout began.
Wounded during the gunfire was Officer Kevin Valencia. He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center. He was in critical condition after surgery but expected to survive, according to Mina.
Two of the children found dead are believed to be Lindsey’s, while the others are believed to belong to the domestic violence victim.
Mina said his officers had been in “direct and indirect” contact with Lindsey throughout the day, with the last indirect contact between 8:30 and 9 p.m. The gunman’s phone had spotty service, and police tried to offer him one of their phones. That’s when they saw the body of one child and decided to try to rescue the other children.
The standoff at the apartment complex at 4932 Eaglesmere Dr., off Kirkman Road near Universal Orlando, forced residents from their homes in the middle of the night early Monday as SWAT officers descended on the complex.
About 8 a.m. Tuesday — roughly eight hours after the standoff there ended — Orlando police were still controlling access to the Westbrook Apartments off Kirkman Road. Local residents streamed in and out of the checkpoint in their cars, many with children in the back seat.
Jackie Robinson said she’s lived in the area for five years. Around this time of the year, the apartment complex is packed with children playing on their summer break, she said.
Robinson said she heard about how the standoff ended after getting a text from her grown daughter: “Mommy, the kids are gone.”
“As a mom, my heart is completely broken,” Robinson said. “It hurts too much.”
Jordanna Marttos, 10, walked around the neighborhood with her dog, Mel, and mother Delma the morning after the standoff ended. Jordanna was the first to learn about how the standoff ended when she got on the family computer Tuesday morning.
“He killed himself and he killed the little kids,” Jordanna said matter-of-factly.
All of the neighborhood kids walked to the same bus stop every morning, and Jordanna said she probably knew the children.
Lindsey had a long history of run-ins with law enforcement.
According to WFTV, Lindsey was arrested in Volusia County in 2004 on charges of aggravated assault, but the charges were dropped, records show.
Records show he was arrested in Sanford in 2007 on charges of larceny and petty theft, convicted and sentenced to community service.
Lindsey in 2009 pleaded no contest to charges of arson and fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer after investigators said he set an Orange City home on fire following an argument with his girlfriend, records said.
Records show he received community supervision, and while under supervision, he has been picked up for a series of probation violations, culminating in 2012 with an aggravated battery and aggravated assault charge in Orange County, stemming from a fight with another girlfriend.
Lindsey was released when the state couldn’t file charges after 30 days, according to the report.