Thursday, August 16, 2018
Nation & World

Children killed in Orlando hostage situation identified by police

ORLANDO - Eleven-year-old Irayan was an over-achiever in school. Lillia, who was 10, enjoyed playing with her friends and going to Volcano Bay. Aidan, 6, loved dinosaurs. Dove, who was two months shy of her second birthday, was a lively toddler.

That’s how the family friend and attorney Walter Benenati described the four children who authorities say were held as hostages and killed by a man suspected of shooting an Orlando police officer.

Benenati first identified the minors on Tuesday through a GoFundMe campaign. Their grandfather works for him as a building maintenance employee, but he has yet to meet the 31-year-old mother.

"She’s in a deep state of shock," Benenati said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel. "Everybody loved these children and the fact that they were lost like this is just unfathomable."

Their mother lived at the home where they were held hostage by Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr., according to Benenati. She worked as a customer service agent. Lindsey didn’t work and he did not live with her, but he would occasionally stay at her place. Lindsey, who police said died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, was father to Aidan and Dove.

"Some may question why she ran out of that building, but nobody can know what she was going through, what horror she was feeling," Benenati said of the mother. "In fairness to her, nobody can imagine taking the life of precious young children, which is what happened here."

Benenati added that the family’s thoughts and prayers were also with Orlando police Officer Kevin Valencia, who suffered a gunshot injury before the standoff and is still in critical condition at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The mother of the young victims, who is Puerto Rican, is currently staying at a hotel and is being supported by her family, according to Benenati.

"These are good people, these are good folks. These are people who would bring a tres leches, a flan to your house, you know, ‘Here’s a cake to eat,’" Benenati said.

Sara Au, a spokeswoman for Orange County Public Schools, said that three of the children killed in the standoff attended Sadler Elementary School. She added grief counselors are available for the school’s community, despite being on summer break.

Benenati said the mother is not willing to speak publicly at the moment, but he hoped the Orlando community could help expense funeral arrangements for her four children. He said although she doesn’t plan to return to the home where the police standoff took place, he doesn’t know exactly where she’s planning to live.

"These beautiful babies never hurt anyone," wrote Benenati in a public GoFundMe campaign page (https://www.gofundme.com/2dter2-funeral-expenses).

Lindsey "was the father of two of the children and selfishly took the lives of these precious innocent angels and then took his own life," Benenati said. "It is a tragic ending to a night of horror."

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