A Florida man shot a police officer and killed four children before turning the gun on himself during a nearly 24-hour standoff with authorities, who tried in vain to prevent the massacre.
Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., a felon out on probation, shot Orlando police officer Kevin Valencia when he and others responded to a domestic dispute at an apartment complex near the Universal Orlando theme park at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday.
A woman, who said she was Lindsey’s girlfriend, had fled the apartment after she was allegedly assaulted by the 35-year-old ex-con, authorities said.
Officers returned fire and Lindsey retreated into the apartment, where he held four children hostage.
Negotiators engaged Lindsey in talks five times in which they urged him to turn himself in and not harm the children.
“Our main concern right now is the safety of the children in that apartment,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters during the standoff.
Earlier that evening, Mina said: “We believe they’re still alive at this time. We just implore him to release those children to us unharmed."
But around 9 p.m., police tried to offer a telephone to Lindsey, whose own phone had spotty service, and saw that one of the children had been killed.
Police entered the apartment and found the other three hostages dead as well, Mina said.
Iraya Lopez, 12; Lillia Lopez, 10; Aidan Lindsey, 6, and Dove Lindsey, 1, were identified as the victims by family attorney Walter Benenati identified the children to WKMG-TV.
"We have no idea when those children lost their lives," Mina told reporters on Monday.
Two of the children were Lindsey’s, while the other two are children of the girlfriend, officials said.
"Our hearts go out to all the families involved," Mina said.
Lindsey was found dead in a closet, 21 hours after the standoff first began.
Lindsey had an extensive criminal history, including arson, battery and theft, according to court records obtained by NBC News. He was on probation for arson and other charges.
Officer Valencia, who was reportedly shot in the temple, was listed in critical condition but is expected to survive.
"We’re still asking for your thoughts and prayers for him as well," Mina said.
Officer Valencia has been with the police department since 2016.