Irayan, eleven years old, was a high achiever in school. Lillia was 10 years old and enjoyed visiting Volcano Bay with her friends. Aidan, 6, loved dinosaurs. Dove was just two months away from her second birthday. She was a very active toddler.
Walter Benenati, a family friend and attorney, described the four children as “hostages” and said that he was responsible for the deaths of an Orlando police officer.
Benenati identified the minors for the first time Tuesday via a GoFundMe campaign. Their grandfather is a building maintenance worker but has not yet met their 31-year-old mother.
In an interview with The Orlando Sentinel, Benenati stated, “She’s still in shock.” “All of us loved these children, and the fact they were lost like that is unfathomable.”
According to Benenati, their mother was the one who lived in the house where Gary Wayne Lindsey Jr. held them hostage. She was a customer service agent. Lindsey did not work, and he didn’t live with her. However, he would sometimes stay at her house.
Police said Lindsey died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot injury. He was the father of Aidan and Dove.
Benenati spoke out about the mother, saying that while some may be unsure why she fled that building, nobody can understand what she was going through or what terror she felt. “In fairness to her mother, nobody could imagine taking the lives of young children like what happened here.”
Benenati said that his family was thinking of Orlando police Officer Kevin Valencia who sustained a gunshot wound before the standoff. Valencia is currently in critical condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
According to Benenati, the mother of the young victims is Puerto Rican and is currently in a hotel. Her family is supporting her.
These are people who are kind and good. These people would bring a dessert, a flan, to your home, you know, “Here’s something to eat,” Benenati stated.
Barbara Jenkins, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, stated that Irayan went to Westridge Middle School and Lillia and Aidan to Sadler Elementary School. She also mentioned that the children’s grandmother worked at the elementary school as a registrar.
Jenkins stated, “You can imagine how heartbroken people are over this tragedy.” She added that counsellors were available on both campuses to assist students and employees attending summer schools.
Benenati stated that the mother was not available to speak out publicly, but he hoped the Orlando community would help pay for funeral arrangements for her four children. He stated that although she does not plan to return home to where the police standoff occurred, he isn’t sure where she will be going.
Benenati wrote on a GoFundMe page that “these beautiful babies never hurt anybody.”
Benenati stated that Lindsey was “the father of two children and selfishly took their lives and then took his own life.” It is a sad ending to a night filled with horror.