Gunman holding 4 kids hostage in Florida standoff

Gunman holding 4 kids hostage in Florida standoff
The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A man believed to have shot a police officer responding to a report of a domestic dispute at an apartment complex in Orlando, Florida, barricaded himself in an apartment with four children in an early-morning standoff that was still unresolved Monday afternoon.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the officer was expected to live despite “very significant injuries.”

Officers were called to the Westbrook Apartments near the Universal Orlando Resort theme park resort late Sunday by a woman who said her boyfriend had beaten her. When officers arrived at the apartment, gunfire was exchanged, hitting the officer, Mina said. The police chief said he doesn’t know if the man was shot.

The officer was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he underwent surgery and was expected to survive. The police chief asked the community for prayers for the officer and his family.

Mina said the gunman was holed up with four children, ages 1, 7, 10 and 12. The children were believed to belong to both the suspect and his girlfriend.

“Our main concern is the safety of the children in that apartment,” Mina said.

Police have not released the name of the suspect or the officer.

Judy Pepper, who lives in the apartment complex, told the Orlando Sentinel that she had fallen asleep on the couch after watching a Sunday night baseball game on television when she heard four loud gunshots.

“It just went, ‘Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,'” Pepper said.

She looked out the window and saw three people carrying a police officer onto the grass. She said other officers arrived, cut open his shirt and appeared to be putting bandages on his neck. Then, they put him in a patrol car and sped away.

“Hell, yes, I was absolutely terrified,” she said.

Officers evacuated other residents of the complex in the middle of the night. Some were milling around nearby restaurant parking lots Monday morning, still wearing pajamas. They were later taken to a nearby hotel.

The standoff also disrupted the routines of residents who lived in neighboring apartment communities. About five blocks from the apartment, two police squad cars blocked the entrance to the street. Residents of the neighboring apartment complexes had to show identification and be escorted by the police. Several fire trucks lined the road.

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