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Orlando police officer shot; suspect has 4 children as hostages

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Police continue to work at the scene of a hostage standoff where a police officer was shot Monday morning, June 11, 2018, in Orlando. Police said a man suspected of battering his girlfriend wounded a police officer late Sunday and barricaded himself inside an apartment with several young children. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

By Stephen Ruiz and Martin Comas, Orlando Sentinel

Orlando police are still in a standoff with the man suspected of shooting an officer overnight at the Westbrook Apartments near Universal Orlando, before barricading himself inside an apartment with four young children as hostages.

The officer, whose name has not been released, was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery. Orlando police Chief John Mina told reporters just before 9 a.m. that the officer was expected to live.

"It is a very serious, significant injury," Mina said. "He is expected to survive."

Mina said the shooting happened after officers responded at about 11:45 p.m. to a woman who reported being battered by her boyfriend. While trying to arrest the suspect, gunfire was exchanged and the officer was shot.

Mina said the suspect currently has four children as hostages, ages 1, 7, 10 and 12.

"Our main concern right now is the safety of the children in that apartment," he said.

A SWAT team is at the Westbrook complex trying to negotiate with the suspect, who Mina said had spoken to them a couple of times and has hung up a couple of times. "Hopefully he peacefully surrenders," Mina said. He cautioned residents to stay away from the area.

Mina said at least one officer returned fire during the exchange.

He said it was unknown whether the suspect was hit.

The Westbrook Apartments are located at 4932 Eaglesmere Dr., off Kirkman Road.

Judy Pepper, 44, said she lives at the apartment complex and had fallen asleep on her couch after watching the Yankees-Mets game. She said she was startled awake when she heard four loud gunshots: "It just went, 'Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop," Pepper said.

Pepper said she looked out her window and saw three people carrying a police officer onto the grass. Other officers arrived and started working on the injured officer, Pepper said.

In this image made from video, Orlando Police Chief John Mina, center, speaks during a news conference, Monday, June 11, 2018, during a hostage standoff where a police officer was shot in Orlando, Fla. Police said a man suspected of battering his girlfriend wounded a police officer late Sunday and barricaded himself inside an apartment with several young children. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

They cut open his shirt and appeared to put bandages on his neck, Pepper said. Officers put him in a patrol car and sped away, she said.

"Hell, yes, I was absolutely terrified," Pepper said. "It just startled me awake, and I had no idea what was going on."

Pepper and other residents were told to vacate the complex, and they were moved to a nearby McDonald's, then to a Holiday Inn.

Another resident, 58-year-old Steven Martinez was preparing to go to bed just after 1 a.m. when he said he heard shots being fired.

"I got scared, and I called 911," Martinez said.

When police arrived, they told everyone in that apartment building to leave, Martinez said. He said SWAT personnel were in the parking lot.


Another resident, Jesus Perez, and his 16-year-old son, Santiago, were sleeping when they heard a loud knock at their door at about 1:30 a.m.

"It startled me," Santiago said. "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. They told us to move quickly."

OPD is not releasing the name of the suspect.

"We've been through this before," Mina said. "It's hard. It's very traumatic when your officer is shot in the line of duty."

At Orlando Regional Medical Center, Orange County corrections employee Thomas Newmann sat in the back of a black pickup truck with a waving Thin Blue Line flag in support of police.

"There need to be more people present because I think morale is low," said Newmann, who added he had been awake for 16 hours straight and headed to the hospital to show his support. "The more people that show, it gives officers a feeling of worth, satisfaction, purpose."

Newmann said he knew of the OPD officer who was injured and that he had been on the force just under two years."There's things that [officers] do, out of their own pocket, out of their own time, out of their own duty that people would be shocked if they knew," he said.

Staff writer Bianca Padr' Ocasio contributed. This is breaking news story that will be updated.

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