By Spectrum News Staff
A gunman who shot an Orlando police officer is holding four children hostage in a standoff with law enforcement at an apartment complex near Universal Studios.
At a news conference Monday afternoon — some 15 hours after the standoff began — Police Chief John Mina confirmed the identity of the man inside the home as Gary Lindsey Jr., 35, a convicted felon.
Mina said that Lindsey exchanged gunfire with officers at about midnight Sunday night.
Officer Kevin Valencia was struck and rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition Monday afternoon.
Mina wouldn’t discuss specifically where Valencia was struck but said his injuries are “very severe. He’s in critical condition.”
(An officer with the Orlando Police Department was shot while responding to a domestic violence call near Universal Studios. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube. Posted on Jun 11, 2018.)
Valencia is in his 20s and has been with the force for about two years.
A post on Pulse Miami Church’s Facebook page asked for prayers for Valencia.
The incident started at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday at the Westbrook Apartments off Kirkman Road and Florida’s Turnpike.
Earlier Monday, police said a woman made a domestic violence call to police.
When officers arrived at the scene, she met them away from the apartment and told them that her boyfriend had battered her.
When officers approached the apartment, the man inside, who Mina said was Lindsey, opened fire.
“(The officer) has a very serious and significant injury,” Mina said.
“He is expected to survive.”
The children who are being held hostage are 1, 6, 10 and 11 years old, Mina said.
Two are thought to be Lindsey’s and two are of the woman’s, police said. Mina said the children are still thought to be alive.
The suspect is barricaded inside the home with four hostages – children who are 1, 7, 10 and 12 years old. pic.twitter.com/7pPYjX8O4H
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 11, 2018
“We implore (him) to release the children unharmed,” Mina said.
SWAT officers are at the scene and have made contact with the man several times via phone, though he’s hung up a few times, Mina said.
The hostages are children, aged 1, 7, 10 and 12. The suspect is believed to be armed. SWAT is working on negotiating with him at this very moment @MyNews13
— Deborah Souverain (@DebSouverainTV) June 11, 2018
“We’ve had dinners with this guy and his kids, and it’s just like we would never have thought. Whenever you see (him), he’s so respectful, says ‘hi.’ It’s hard to believe,” Nicole Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez is among those living in the apartment who were forced to evacuate. Some of them are being held at a nearby hotel.
Mina said officers are shaken up by their colleagues’ injury.
“It’s very emotional. We went through this last year with Debra (Clayton). … But we’re receiving so much support from the community.”
(Learn More. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube. Posted on Jun 11, 2018.)
Domestic violence calls dangerous
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, domestic violence calls are the most dangerous calls for police officers.
In 2017, more officers were shot after domestic disturbance calls than any other deadly incident involving guns, the fund says.
FBI data show that from 1988 to 2016, 136 officers died responding to these types of calls.
The next most deadly from that same time period drug were deal arrests gone wrong.
Sending our community’s support and prayers to the @OrlandoPolice officer shot late last night. We appreciate our first responders who risk their lives each day to keep us safe.
— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) June 11, 2018
Check back for updates on this developing story.
Spectrum News’ Anthony Leone, Greg Angel and Audrea Huff contributed to this story.
Editor’s note: Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Valencia for a full recovery, and the safe release of the children.