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"He's fighting every second": Orlando officer in coma after standoff that left kids dead

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A police officer is in a coma and has a long road to recovery after being shot by a Florida felon who later killed four children during a standoff. A trauma surgeon said Wednesday at a news conference that Orlando Police Officer Kevin Valencia was shot in the head and is in critical condition, but has shown signs of responsiveness.

In a tearful statement to reporters, Valencia's wife, Meghan, said that her husband is a fighter and she asked for prayers.

"He's fighting every second, and I need him to continue fighting," she said.

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Officer Kevin Valencia, left, and his wife Meghan Valencia

WKMG

Meghan Valencia expressed sorrow for the killing of the four children by Gary Lindsey, who holed up with the children in a 21-hour standoff that ended late Monday.

"I'm so sorry to those families, because I'm a mom and I cannot even imagine what they are going through," she said. "It is more than what anybody can bear."  

She said she knows every officer who responded wanted to get the children out, and that they feel the "weight of the world" because they couldn't.

Sobbing as she talked about her husband, Meghan Valencia said they were childhood sweethearts and have two young sons.

"He needs all the support so that he can pull through, so that he can wake up, so that he can live, because my boys needs a daddy, I need my husband, and this community needs a real hero," she said.

Valencia is in his late 20s and has been with the police department since 2016, Orlando police Chief John Mina said.

Sunday's 21-hour standoff began when Lindsey's girlfriend left the apartment and told police she had been battered. Lindsey fired at responding officers, seriously wounding Valencia. He then holed up inside the apartment for much of the day with the four children, who police say ranged in age from 1 to 11. The girlfriend was the mother of all four children, and Lindsey was the father of two of them, said family friend Walter Benenati.

Lindsey, 35, was found dead in a closet when officers entered the apartment about 9 p.m. Monday, Mina said at a news conference. Two of the children were found in one bedroom, and the other two were found in another bedroom.

It wasn't clear when the children were killed. Mina said a medical examiner will have to determine a time of death. He confirmed there would have been time for Lindsey to kill the children after his girlfriend fled the apartment but before officers arrived.

A handgun was recovered from the scene, and the medical examiner confirmed that Lindsey's gun killed all four children, Mina said Wednesday.

Mina said officers tried to offer one of their phones to Lindsey, whose phone had spotty service, so that they could continue negotiations with him. When they got to the apartment, however, they saw one of the children had been killed and decided to enter the apartment to rescue the others.

Mina said there was no indication during negotiations that the children were in danger.

"The national protocol, best practices in these types of situations, especially involving children and any type of domestic violence situation, is to negotiate in an attempt to come to a peaceful resolution," he said.

The police chief added that most similar situations do end peacefully.

Benenati, who employs the woman's father, said Lindsey and the woman fought frequently.

During their fight Sunday, he said, the woman was being beaten and kicked in the head.

"She ran out of the house in fear of her life, and the kids were locked in a room, and she never thought, ever, in a million years that he would hurt the children," he said.

Benenati said the woman worked as a customer service agent and that Lindsey was between jobs.

"He was in fear of being put back in prison because he was on a 10-year suspended sentence," he said.

The apartment was in her name, Benenati said, and Lindsey didn't live there but was there frequently and often stayed the night.

Gary Lindsey

Gary Lindsey is seen in this May 18, 2018, mugshot after an arrest for a probation violation.

Volusia County Corrections

"Losing four children is unfathomable," said Benenati, who added that the mother was in a state of shock.

Benenati said the oldest child, a boy named Irayan, loved video games and was an overachiever at school. Lillia, the 10-year-old, was a Disney fan and enjoyed being with her friends. He said 6-year-old Aidan had a dinosaur obsession and 22-month-old Dove liked to run. Lindsey was the father of the younger two, he said.  

"It's just an unspeakable horror what he did," Benenati said.

Court records show Lindsey had an extensive criminal history involving arson, battery and theft. He was on probation for several charges, including arson.

The arson charge stemmed from an encounter with his girlfriend in 2008. She called police when Lindsey stabbed a television with a knife and then smashed the screen with his fist, according to a charging affidavit.  Lindsey told his girlfriend to leave their Orange City, Florida, home and when she refused, he told her, "You need to get the dogs and leave my grave," the report said. The girlfriend left with the dogs and as she was departing she saw Lindsey carrying gasoline cans to the front door. A short time later, the fire department was called to the home to put out a fire.

Lindsey was sentenced to 10 years of supervised probation, followed by unsupervised probation.

Lindsey was arrested last month for theft and then jailed for violating the probation, the records show. His probation officer said Lindsey posed no threat to the community but she still recommended that he be incarcerated for six months. However, Lindsey's sister agreed to pay $1,000, and he agreed to pay $300 a month toward restitution, and his supervised probation was reinstated during a court hearing.

The records show Lindsey had been working at an auto center in Orlando, earning $1,300 a month.