Officer shot in hostage situation moved to brain rehabilitation center

Orlando police say Kevin Valencia is showing signs of improvement

By Anna Johnson - Digital Journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando police led Officer Kevin Valencia's ambulance down the road as it drove away from Orlando Regional Medical Center Thursday. OPD officials said Valencia is on his way to a brain and spinal cord rehabilitation center in Georgia.

In an update from police and Valencia's family, officials said he has been "showing signs of improvement" since being admitted to ORMC on June 11. Police said Valencia was shot in the head while trying to rescue four children from an armed domestic violence suspect. The shooting began a daylong standoff between suspect Gary Lindsey Jr. and law enforcement.

Valencia is being transported to Shepard's Rehabilitation Center in Georgia. Orlando police and Valencia's family said he is still in critical condition in a coma, but is responding to commands, an improvement from his previous state.

Valencia's wife Meghan Valencia said the officer was not expected to survive at all. She said she is hopeful for his continued recovery at the rehab center.

"It's a wonderful facility for patients with trauma and helping them get back to communities," Meghan Valencia said. "(We're) humbled that they are willing to take Kevin and work with him and help him. I can't wait to see what he's going to do next."

The incident in which Valencia was shot started just before midnight June 10. The standoff ended just after 9 p.m. the following day, when officers found Lindsey and  all four children -- Irayan Pluth, 12, Lillia Pluth, 10, Aidan Lindsey, 6, and Dove Lindsey, 1 -- dead from gunshot wounds. 

Meghan Valencia said she knows every officer who tried to save the four children feels the "weight of the world." 

Meghan and Kevin Valencia are both in their late 20s and have known each other since middle school. The couple has two young sons.

Police are asking for prayers and donations for the Valencia family as the officer recovers. You can donate to the GoFundMe account set up on Valencia's behalf here.

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