A Florida man who took four children hostage after beating his girlfriend and shooting a police officer apparently killed the kids and himself following a 21-hour standoff, police said.
The standoff started Sunday night, when Gary Lindsey Jr.'s live-in girlfriend fled the apartment and called police to report that Lindsey had hit her. When police arrived at the apartment to question Lindsey, he opened fire, sending one of the officers, Kevin Valencia, to the hospital with a bullet wound to the neck, police said.
Judy Pepper, who lives in the apartment complex, told the Associated Press that she had fallen asleep on her couch Sunday night and was awakened by gunshots.
“It just went, ‘Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,’” Pepper said.
When Pepper looked out her window, she saw three people carrying Valencia away from where he had been shot. Then more police arrived, she said, and they cut off Valencia's shirt and bandaged the bullet wound to his neck before putting him in a police car and speeding away.
“Hell, yes, I was absolutely terrified,” she told the AP.
Valencia is expected to survive, police said.
Meanwhile, inside the apartment, Lindsey had hostages: Four children, aged 1, 6, 10 and 11, according to WESH in Orlando. Two of the children were Lindsey’s and two were his girlfriend’s, police said.
Once police set up a perimeter around Lindsey’s apartment, they tried to communicate with him. But his cell phone had spotty service, so they gave him another cell phone so they could communicate effectively. When a police officer went to the door of Lindsey’s apartment to give him the phone, the officer saw one child was dead.
“That’s when we decided to start our plans to make entry and try to rescue the rest of the children,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
For 21 hours, police tried to persuade Lindsey to release the children. Hostage negotiators spoke with him several times throughout the stand-off and communicated with him as late as 8:30 p.m. Monday, Mina said.
Moments after the final communication, a SWAT team breached the apartment, finding Lindsey and all of the children dead from gunshots.
Lindsey, 35, had a criminal history including arson, battery and theft, and he was on probation for several charges, records show.
Police had worked very hard “to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution,” Mina said. “Unfortunately, it has a very tragic and sad ending.”
“Our hearts go out to all the families involved,” he added.
[Photo: Volusia County Sheriff’s Office]