The Orlando hostage taker who killed four children and critically injured one of the city's police officers earlier this week “should have been behind bars” long before he carried out his latest violence, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Wednesday
Gary Lindsey Jr. had a long history of violence against women, including several incidents of alleged domestic abuse of his girlfriend, who was the mother all four young children killed in the incident. Lindsey was the father of two of the children that were killed. The children ranged in age from 1 to 11.
“In my opinion, based on what I know, that person should have been behind bars," Mina told reporters.
A review of court documents shows that Lindsey, 35, had on multiple occasions been accused of battering women. That woman once even accused Lindsey of holding a knife to her neck as she held one of the four children in her arms, court records show.
Lindsey was on felony probation after pleading no contest to charges of arson of a dwelling, willful fleeing or eluding law enforcement and domestic battery. Those charges stem from a December 2008 incident in nearby Volusia County involving another woman, according to the court documents.
In that incident, a different woman with whom Lindsey was in a relationship told police that, during an argument, Lindsey had grabbed a kitchen knife and begun stabbing the living room television and destroyed another television as well as a phone she used to try and call police. He eventually set that home ablaze.
He violated probation for the arson incident last month when he committed a retail theft, court records show. Lindsey’s probation officer recommended that he be sentenced to six months in prison, but a judge instead ordered that Lindsey pay restitution for the theft and remain on probation until 2045, court records show.
"I will say, knowing all that information, it is a shame this person was not behind bars. I'll leave it at that," Mina said. "I don't know why someone would get community control until the year 2045."
The incident that led to the killing of the four kids began after the mother of the children called police to say she was beaten by Lindsey. After meeting the woman outside the apartment, officers were approaching the unit to confront him when he opened fired through the door, striking officer Kevin Valencia in the head, police said.
A 21-hour standoff ensued that ended with Lindsey killing the four children before turning the gun on himself.
Mina revealed Wednesday that the Orange County Medical Examiner determined Lindsey used a single weapon to fire all the shots that killed the children in midst of the standoff with police.
Mina added that that the weapon Lindsey used in the murder of the children, a .380 caliber handgun, was stolen from Lindsey’s father. Five weapons were recovered from Lindsey, who as a convicted felon was prohibited form possessing firearms.
Valencia remains in critical condition and is in a coma, said Dr. Chandwick Smith, a trauma surgeon at the Orlando Regional Medical Center where the officer is being treated. While Valencia has shown some signs of responsiveness, the officer faces a long road to recovery, Smith said.
The officer’s wife, Meghan Valencia, described the officer, who has two young sons, as dedicated to the job. One of Valencia’s colleagues, Talmon Hall, described the injured officer as a “leader on our squad, the first to volunteer to do a job, even when it was dangerous.”
“On that night his primary concern was the well-being for those children,” Hall said. “He wanted to be the first to apprehend the bad guy.”
Meghan Valencia said even as she grieved for her husband, she also felt heartache for the mother of the four children killed by Lindsey.
“I know every officer wanted to get those children out,” she said. “And believe me when I say that each and every one of them feels the weight of the world because they couldn’t.”