‘It was horrible:' Residents describe seeing Orlando police officer shot

Man holds 4 children hostage after shooting officer, Chief John Mina says

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist, Nadeen Yanes - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A couple awoken by gunfire overnight Sunday said they saw everything that led up to an Orlando police officer being shot by a man holding four children hostage inside an apartment near Universal Orlando.

Police were called to the Westbrook Apartments on Eaglesmere Drive at 11:45 p.m. Sunday for an alleged domestic violence incident. When officers arrived a man, who is holding four children hostage, opened fire hitting one Orlando police officer, officials said.

Police fired back at the man in apartment No. 127, but officials have not said if he was shot. Orlando police Chief John Mina said the man, identified as Gary Lindsey Jr., 35, has a criminal history and is the father of some of the children, who are ages 1, 7, 10 and 12.

The now day-long standoff caused Maria Tapia and Miguel Lopez to evacuate their apartment No. 136, which is a floor above where the shooting occurred and the standoff continues. 

“It was around midnight and we were sleeping and we heard somebody knocking on the door on the second floor,” Lopez said. “Suddenly somebody opened the door and we just hear, ‘Pow, pow, pow, pow’ -- four gun shots.”

Tapia said she started crying when she looked out her apartment window and saw the officer down.

“We saw the police officer laying on the ground with blood and everything,” Tapia said. “It was horrible.”

A short while later, Orlando police were at their door evacuating them from the building.

“I told my wife get ready because we might have to leave the apartment,” Lopez said. “We changed our clothes and probably 15 minutes later police start knocking on the door saying, ‘It was not safe for us.’”

The couple doesn’t know when they’ll be able to return to their apartment as they wait in the parking lot for the standoff to end.

Mina described the officer’s injuries as “very serious and significant.” Mina said the officer has been with the department for less than two years and is recovering from emergency surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Tapia said the officer was shot somewhere in the upper body and she was relived to hear he was out of surgery.

Westbrook Apartment residents are being questioned at a nearby Holiday Inn, according to hotel staff.

Check back to ClickOrlando.com and watch News 6 for updates on this developing story.

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