ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Neighbors in the Florida apartment complex where a felon killed four children during a daylong standoff that started with the shooting of an officer described the gunman as both nice and strange.
Gary Lindsey came off as polite and friendly, neighbor Nicole Gonzalez said Tuesday morning as she returned to her Orlando home after being evacuated more than a day earlier during the standoff.
“His kids were beautiful, sweet children — well-mannered, as well,” Gonzalez said.
But Miguel Lopez, another neighbor in the apartment complex near Universal Orlando Resort, said his interactions with Lindsey were “weird.”
The standoff began late Sunday when Lindsey’s girlfriend left the apartment and told police she had been battered. Lindsey fired at responding officers, seriously wounding one of them. He then holed up for much of the day with the four children inside the apartment.
“We heard gunshots, and I saw through the window that the policeman was down,” Lopez said. “The top stair was full of blood. They took the police officer down. … It was horrible.”
Officer Kevin Valencia was in critical condition but is expected to survive, Orlando police Chief John Mina said Monday. One officer was able to return fire. Valencia is in his late 20s and has been with the police department since 2016.
Lindsey, 35, was found dead in a closet when officers entered the apartment about 9 p.m., more than 21 hours after the standoff started, Mina said at a news conference just before midnight Monday.
Mina said officers tried to offer one of their phones to Lindsey, whose phone had spotty service, and saw that one of the children had been killed. Authorities went in hoping to rescue the others but found them all dead from gunshots.
On Tuesday, blue tarps covered the apartment building’s back windows where SWAT officers apparently had made entry. A medical examiner’s van left the apartment complex midmorning.
“Our hearts go out to all the families involved,” Mina said.
The children with Lindsey ranged in age from 1 to 11. Two of them were Lindsey’s and two were his girlfriend’s, the chief said.
A police spokeswoman said Tuesday that the medical examiner, as part of an investigation, would determine when exactly the children were killed.
George Almeida, who lives in a neighboring building, said the lease must have been in Lindsey’s girlfriend’s name since the apartment managers run a background check on potential tenants.
Almeida said he didn’t know Lindsey personally but would see him wearing a gas mask and spray-painting items beside a tree outside his apartment building.
“He looked like a nice guy,” Almeida said. “He didn’t look like anyone who would cause trouble. But you never know. You can’t judge a book by its cover.”