Four young kids and a gunman are dead and a police officer is in critical condition after a domestic disturbance led to a lengthy standoff at an apartment building in Orlando, Florida, authorities say.
The bloody and tragic ending came nearly 24 hours after an officer was shot during an exchange of gunfire while responding to a report of a woman being battered by her boyfriend. The officer was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive. After the shootout with police, the boyfriend took four young children, including two of his own, hostage inside the apartment. When a SWAT team entered the building nearly 22 hours later, the suspect and the kids were all found dead.
Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., 35, has been identified as the suspect, Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters. Lindsey had a lengthy criminal history in Volusia, Seminole and Orange counties, records show, mostly stemming from domestic violence incidents, including arson.
Police said the children were aged 1, 6, 10 and 11. Their names have not been released.
The SWAT team entered the apartment about 9 p.m. and Mina announced just before midnight that the children and suspect were dead. He said they had been in “constant contact” with the suspect throughout the day, both directly and indirectly, and had contact with him “indirectly” about 8:30 p.m. Mina said it is not clear when the four children and suspect died. The incident remains under investigation.
Officer Kevin Valencia, 27, was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery after the shooting. He remained in critical condition at midnight Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Responded to a Call From a Woman Who Reported She Was Being Battered by Her Boyfriend & the Officer Was Shot in the Eye During an Exchange of Gunfire
Orlando Police responded to a call from a woman who reported she was being battered by her boyfriend about 11:45 p.m. Sunday at the Westbrook Apartments complex near Universal Studios, the Orlando Sentinel reports. While officers were trying to arrest the suspect, identified as Gary Lindsey Jr., shots were exchanged and Officer Kevin Valencia was hit. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery, and is expected to survive. Lindsey then barricaded himself inside the apartment with the four children, police said.
Police sources told WFTV the officer was shot in the eye.
“It just went, ‘Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,” neighbor Judy Pepper told the Sentinel. “Hell, yes, I was absolutely terrified. It just startled me awake, and I had no idea what was going on.”
Residents are being asked to stay away from the area, and those who were near the apartment have been taken to a nearby Holiday Inn, the Sentinel reports.
“It startled me. My father opened up the door. There were about 20 police officers in the hallway. They told us to put some clothes on and get out. Steven Martinez told the newspaper. “They told us to move quickly.”
Mina said they were having issues communicating with the suspect because his cell phone wasn’t working, so when they tried to bring him one of their cellphones for him to use, they saw one of the children was dead, and made plans to enter the building then to try to save the other kids. But when the SWAT team entered, the suspect and children were all found dead.
The suspect was found dead in a closet of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mina did not say where the children were found.
2. Lindsey Was the Father of at Least 2 of the 4 Kids He Held Hostage Inside the Apartment
According to WFTV, Gary Lindsey Jr. was the father of at least two of the four children who were being held hostage inside the home and who were killed. The other children were his girlfriend’s kids.
The name and condition of the woman who accused him of battering her was not immediately released by police. She is alive and met with the responding officers outside the apartment, ABC News reports.
Lindsey had a felony record in Florida and it is not clear how he obtained the gun used in the shooting.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters negotiators had talked to Lindsey at least five times since the standoff began. Mina urged Lindsey to let the children go during a press briefing Monday afternoon. Mina said officers returned fire during the initial encounter, but he did not know if Lindsey was hit.
“We’ve talked to him several times throughout the night and the morning,” Mina told reporters. “My main concern is the safety and the well-being of the children inside there.”
At an early evening press briefing prior to finding the children dead, Mina told reporters, “We believe they’re still alive at this time. We just implore him to release those children to us unharmed.”
3. He Was Charged With First-Degree Arson & Domestic Battery in 2008 & Was Arrested in May 2018 for Violating His Probation
Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., then 25, was arrested in 2008 in Volusia County and charged with first-degree arson of a dwelling or structure. He was also charged with domestic battery and fleeing to elude police. In May 2018, Lindsey was arrested again in Volusia County for violating his probation in that case.
Because of Lindsey’s history of arson, firefighters were at the scene of the Orlando standoff.
According to Volusia County court records obtained by Heavy, the arson incident occurred in December 2008. Lindsey went to his girlfriend’s home and a verbal argument began. Police said Lindsey grabbed a kitchen knife and began stabbing the television in the woman’s living room. He then started to punch the television screen with his fist, damaging it more. Lindsey then walked into a bedroom and ripped a TV off of a wall mount and jumped on it, police said in the arrest report.
He then told the victim, who feared for her life, to get her dogs and leave, police said. The victim said she told him she wasn’t going to leave and he replied, “You need to get the dogs and leave my grave.” When the victim tried to call for help, Lindsey grabbed the phone and took it from her hand before throwing it across the room, breaking it. Lindsey then told her he was going to burn the house down and she grabbed her purse and dogs and left, police said.
The victim told police she then saw Lindsey walking to the side of the house with two gasoline cans. The victim was able to call for help and the Orange City Fire Department responded to the home for a confirmed structure fire. Arson investigators said they located a pattern of four spots in the house where the gas had been used as an accelerant to start the fire.
Lindsey was not in the home when firefighters arrived, but his vehicle was spotted by Volusia County sheriff’s deputies soon after. As they approached his vehicle, he sped off, according to the police report. Police alter found Lindsey at a local hospital in the emergency room. Detectives said he smelled of gasoline and had bursn to both his arms and hands.
He pleaded no contest to charges of domestic battery, first-degree arson and fleeing or attempting to elude in 2010 and was sentenced to 4 months in jail. In May 2018, he was arrested and charged with violating his probation after an arrest in Seminole County. The probation violation case was still pending. He was taken into custody on May 8 and released on May 23.
It was his fourth arrest for violating his probation since his conviction. Lindsey was given a 30-year supervision term after pleading no contest. Court records show he was at one point forced by the court to live with his mother in Deltona, but was then allowed to move to Orange County to be near his young son.
4. Lindsey Also Had Arrests for Aggravated Battery With a Deadly Weapon, Shoplifting & Grand Theft
Lindsey also has a criminal record in both Orange and Seminole counties. In 2012, he was charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Orange County. According to court records, Lindsey was accused in that incident of holding a knife to his girlfriend’s face and threatening to kill her.
Orange County court records obtained by Heavy show that police were called by Lindsey’s then-girlfriend of 2 years, who said they had been arguing over their 7-month-old son. The woman told police that during the argument, Lindsey put his arm around her neck, put the kitchen knife to her throat and threatened to kill her while she was holding their baby son in her arms. She said Lindsey then dragged her into another room and caused her to drop the baby to the floor, but the child was not hurt. She then began to struggle with Lindsey and was cut on her hand. She was able to break free and left the apartment to call 911.
Police said in the arrest report they arrived to find Lindsey’s girlfriend with blood on her shirt, pants and face. Lindsey denied grabbing the woman and threatening her with the knife.
In May 2012, prosecutors dropped the charges against him. It is not clear why they did not attempt to prosecute him. The girlfriend in the 2012 case was not the same woman as in the 2008 arson and domestic battery case.
In Seminole County, Lindsey was arrested twice in 2007, on shoplifting and retail theft charges. In May 2018, he was charged with grand theft of items between $300 to $5,000 dollars. He was accused of stealing several items from a Walmart in Sanford. That case was pending.
Little is known about Lindsey beyond his criminal record. Arrest reports show he was often unemployed. An online profile appearing to belong to him shows he was originally from Slidell, Louisiana, but graduated from Pine Ridge High School in Deltona, Florida.
He then studied computer graphics at Seminole State College of Florida in Sanford, but it is not clear if he graduated. His profile photo was an anime character, while his cover photo appeared to be a picture of an animal bone in leaves. His profile did not include photos of himself, but also included another anime character with the words, “Releasing the darkness inside,” along with a photo of a spider and a photo illustration featuring a noose.
5. The Officer Is Expected to Survive, but Suffered a ‘Very Serious, Significant Injury,’ the Police Chief Says
Officer Kevin Valencia remains at the hospital. Police Chief John Mina told reporters the officer suffered a “very serious, significant injury,” but is expected to survive.
Valencia, 27, is originally from South Florida, WFTV reports. His family was en route to the hospital Monday afternoon. He has been with the Orlando Police Department since 2016.
Mina told reporters, “We’ve been through this before. It’s hard. It’s very traumatic when your officer is shot in the line of duty.” He asked for thoughts and prayers for the officer and his family.
John DeMas, a retired law enforcement officer, told WFLA-TV his granddaughter, Megan, is married to Valencia. DeMas told the news station that Meghan and Kevin are childhood sweethearts who met when they were 13 and lived next door to each other. They eventually married and lived in Doral, until moving to Orlando. They have two young sons.
“He responded to Megan’s voice by squeezing her hand but the next 48 hours will tell. He was shot in the temple, not the forehead, it was through a door. There are other officers there, so he got immediate care,” DeMas told the news station. “The first 48 hours is going to tell the tale. Now the fact that he is semi responsive, is a positive. Where goes from there, it’s anybody’s guess.”