Friend says mother of 4 killed children in shock
ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A family representative who started a GoFund Me campaign to help cover funeral expenses of the four children killed by a felon while in a standoff with police says the mother is in a state of shock.
Walter Benenati employs the father of the woman, whom police have not identified. Benenati says she also needs to cover expenses to move out of the apartment in Orlando, Florida, where the shootings happened.
Benenati says the oldest hostage was 12-year-old Irayan. He says Irayan loved video games and was an overachiever at school. He says Lillia was a huge Disney fan and the 10-year-old enjoyed being with her friends. He says 6-year-old Aidan had a dinosaur obsession and 22-month-old Dove liked to run.
The woman was the mother of all four children. The suspect, 35-year-old Gary Lindsey Jr., was the father of Aidan and Dove. Benenati says Lindsey committed "an unspeakable horror."
Neighbors at the Westbrook Apartments returned to their homes, a day after the violent conclusion to the hours-long standoff between Lindsey and law enforcement.
Orlando police officers were called to the complex on Sunday evening by Lindsey's girlfriend, because of a domestic dispute, authorities said. Upon arriving, the officers were fired upon. One of those officers, Kevin Valencia, was seriously injured and remains hospitalized.
People who knew Lindsey and the children are left asking why this had to happen. Although they were able to return home, many said it will never be the same.
“It’s very devastating,” Shantell Alexis said.
Alexis said her kids knew the four child victims, whose lives were taken far too soon.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “Especially when you go to school together and see that the kids they grew up with are no longer going to be there.”
Some learned the devastating news as they returned home to what they call a quiet neighborhood.
“There’s no explanation for what happened that day,” Abdelhamid Dhhirni said. “It’s not human at all.”
Those who lived close to the apartment where Lindsey barricaded himself inside with the four children were forced to evacuate as police handled hostage negotiations. Sadly none of them could be saved, according to Orlando Police Chief John Mina. A SWAT team found the children shot to death after the hours-long standoff.
“As a parent, how could someone take their own kids life,” Alexis said. “You’re supposed to protect your children at all times.”
Court record shows Lindsey has an extensive criminal history. He was a felon currently out on probation for arson and other charges, according to law enforcement.
Lindsey was arrested in Volusia County and convicted of setting a fire in Orange City in 2008 following an argument with his girlfriend at the time. He was sentenced to 30 years supervision. According to court records, he violated probation and was arrested four more times in Volusia County and let out of jail each time.
Officials in Florida say a medical examiner will determine at what point during a standoff the four children were killed. Authorities say two of the children are believed to be Lindsey's, while the other two are believed to be those of the girlfriend.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.