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4 children dead after Orlando hostage standoff; community reeling — 'It hurts too much'

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Gunman Holds 4 Kids Hostage in Florida Standoff
© Provided by The Associated Press

By Bianca Padre Ocasio and Michael Williams, Orlando Sentinel

Residents at the Westbrook Apartments are reeling this morning after a nearly 24-hour standoff ended in tragedy late Monday, with the discovery that four children had been killed by a man suspected of shooting a police officer at the west Orlando complex.

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 he had taken as hostages before taking his own life.

The children have since been identified by a family representative as Iraya, 12; Lillia, 10; Aidan, 6; and Dove, 1.

About 8 a.m. Tuesday — roughly eight hours after the standoff there ended — Orlando police were still controlling access to the apartments, off Kirkman Road near Universal Orlando. Residents streamed in and out of the checkpoint in their cars, many with children in the back seat.

The ground outside of the complex was littered with broken glass and used police munitions. Large tarps covered broken windows. Nearby was a blue see-saw and grill where families and children would spend summer afternoons.

The second-floor landing outside the apartment where the killings happened was covered in debris.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina arrives at an afternoon news conference during a hostage standoff Monday, June 11, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. Police said a man suspected of battering his girlfriend shot a police officer late Sunday and barricaded himself inside an apartment with several young children. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

A trail of blood led away from the apartment, pooling near the top of the stairs. The door opposite the apartment was pock-marked with bullet holes. A young couple who emerged from that unit to take their dog on a walksaid they knew Lindsey but were too shaken to talk about him.

George Almeida lives nearby. He said he often saw Lindsey go outside for a cigarette.

“He didn’t really show any signs of anything that happened yesterday,” Almeida said.

Miguel Lopez and his wife, Maria, returned to their apartment in the same building Tuesday morning. They haven’t gotten much sleep since they saw the police officer lying critically injured on the grass outside.

“We hoped at least the kids would make it,” Miguel Lopez said.

They said Lindsey was strange and they knew it was him when they heard about a hostage situation in their building.


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 the childrens’ deaths 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 hours after the standoff ended. Jordanna was the first to learn the tragic news 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.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 had fled the second-story apartment to a nearby restaurant on Kirkman Road to call police.

Officers tried to arrest Lindsey at the apartment when a shootout began. Officer Kevin Valencia was wounded and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was in critical condition after surgery but expected to survive, according to Mina.

Residents at Westbrook Apartments get a first look at their building where a gunman held four children hostage before taking their life and his own, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Orlando, Fla.
© Jacob Langston / Orlando Sentinel

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, Mina said.

The apartment complex is at 4932 Eaglesmere Dr., off Kirkman Road near Universal Orlando. Sandi Marti planned to spend her day today — which marks two years since the massacre that claimed 49 lives at Pulse nightclub in 2016 — at the Pulse memorial with her wife, Carry.

Instead, the couple, who live in a nearby complex, started a memorial of their own.

Before heading out for their morning walk, they placed a heart-shaped balloon, rose and note that read, “Love always wins” on the chain-link fence behind the Westbrook Apartments.

This is a developing story, check back for updates. Staff writers David Harris, Lisa Cianci, Martin Comas, Jeff Weiner and Stephen Ruiz contributed to this report.

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