ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - Orlando's police chief spent hours urging a gunman who shot a police officer to release four children he was holding hostage and peacefully end a standoff that lasted over 20 hours. Instead, it ended tragically, with the suspect and the children dead.
"The children died from apparent gunshot wounds, and it appears the suspect took his own life as well," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a news conference late Monday evening.
Mina said they had been in constant contact with 35-year-old suspect Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. since the standoff began around midnight on Sunday at the Westbrook Apartments in Orlando's Windhover community. The neighborhood is just northwest of the intersection of Kirkman and Vineland roads.
Officers were called to the apartment by Lindsey's girlfriend, because of a domestic dispute, police said. Upon arriving, the officers were fired upon. One officer, Kevin Valencia, was seriously injured and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery.
"Officer Valencia is still in critical condition, and the next 48 to 72 hours will be very telling, so we just want thoughts and prayers," Mina asked of the community.
He said they had been in constant communication with Lindsey throughout the day -- both directly and indirectly -- with the last contact having been around 8:30 to 9 p.m.
"At one point, we were having trouble with the suspect's phone... so the connection really wasn't good," Mina explained. "Although we were talking to him through other means, we wanted to talk to him on the phone. We tried to introduce one of our phones to him, and when we did that, we noticed one of the children was obviously deceased."
Mina said that's when planning began on how to enter the apartment to rescue the remaining children. When the SWAT team did gain entry, Mina said they found the children and suspect dead. Mina did not offer any details about the children, who ranged from ages one to 11, but he said Lindsey was discovered deceased in a closet. He did say that two of the children were those of the suspect and he added that the family of the other children had been notified.
"We have no idea when those children lost their lives. That will be part of the investigation," Mina added.
Chief Mina thanked the Orange County Sheriff's Office, which was "able to step up and relieve our officers," during the hours-long standoff.
"Our heart goes out to the families of those four children," he added. "Obviously, a long day like this is both physically and mentally draining for our officers."
The investigation is still underway, and more information is expected to be released on Tuesday.
Court record shows Lindsey has an extensive criminal history. He was a felon currently on probation for arson and other charges, according to court documents.