ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — A police officer who first responded to a hostage situation in Central Florida is fighting for his life.
The officer is in a coma and has a long road to recovery after being shot in the head earlier in the week by a Florida felon who eventually killed four children during a standoff, a trauma surgeon said Wednesday.
Orlando Police Officer Kevin Valencia was in critical condition but has shown signs of responsiveness, the doctor said.
“He has a long road ahead for recovery,” said Dr. Chadwick Smith at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Valencia’s wife, Meghan, said her husband is a fighter. Sobbing as she talked about her husband, Meghan Valencia said they are childhood sweethearts and have two sons.
“We were each other’s first boyfriend and girlfriend when we were 12,” she said. “You can imagine this person is literally everything to me.”
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. The children, ranging in age from 1 to 11, belonged to Lindsey and his girlfriend.
Sunday night’s standoff began when Lindsey’s girlfriend left the apartment and told police she had been battered. Lindsey fired at responding officers, seriously wounding Valencia. One officer was able to return fire.
Lindsey, 35, was found dead in a closet when officers entered the apartment Monday night. Two of the children were found in one bedroom, and the other two were found in another bedroom. The medical examiner on Wednesday reported that children were killed from bullets from Lindsey’s handgun and not from the exchange of fire from officers, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.
Mina defended the decision not to storm the apartment sooner, saying such actions might have provoked Lindsey and put the children in harm’s way.
Meanwhile, Meghan Valencia asked for prayers from the public.
“He needs all the support he can get,” Meghan Valencia said. “So that he can wake up. So that he can live because my boys need a daddy and I need my husband and this community needs a real hero.”