Orlando, FL – Orlando Police Department (OPD) Officer Kevin Valencia died in the line of duty on Monday due to complications of the catastrophic injuries he suffered after being shot in the eye during a standoff in 2018.
Officer Valencia, then 27, was responding to a domestic violence call on June 11, 2018, when 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey opened fire through an apartment door, hitting him in the eye, WFTV reported.
During the 21-hour standoff that ensued, Lindsey murdered four children – ages one, six, 10, and 11 – before he turned the gun on himself, police said.
Police said Lindsey, a convicted felon, was found to have been in possession of two rifles, two shotguns, and two handguns, all of which he was believed to have inherited from his father, USA Today reported.
He was prohibited by law from possessing firearms because of his violent felony convictions.
“In the middle of the night, officers came to me and they woke me up…and told me that my husband had been shot trying to save some kids,” Officer Valencia’s wife, Meghan, said through tears during a news conference several days after her husband was critically wounded.
The mother-of-two told reporters that she and Officer Valencia were each other’s “first love,” and that they have been together since they were just 12 years old.
“You can imagine that this person is literally everything to me,” the grieving wife and mother said through sobs. “He blessed me with two amazing little boys, and he…is the most amazing father ever.”
“He is fighting every second, and I need him to continue to keep fighting,” Meghan implored at the time. “He has to come back.”
In December of 2018, Meghan accepted a Life Saving Award for her husband at the Orlando Police Department headquarters – the same week she learned that he would lose his eye.
Officer Valencia was transferred to the specialized Shepherd Hospital in Atlanta, where he underwent his 11th surgery later the same month, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Officer Valencia joined the OPD in 2016.
He retired from the department on Oct. 20, 2020, and was “awarded the prestigious purple heart” for the “heroic efforts” he made on the night of the shooting, OPD Chief Orlando Rolon said in a statement announcing Officer Valencia’s death on Monday.
“It is with deep regret and heartache that I inform you of the passing of Officer Kevin Valencia,” Chief Rolon said. “Officer Valencia risked his life for people he didn’t even know – a risk that many in the law enforcement profession take without question.”
The chief said the young officer had “been fighting for his life with his family by his side” ever since.
“To his squad mates, all the members of the Orlando Police Department, and those with whom he worked throughout his law enforcement career in Orlando and South Florida, we stand together to honor the hero, husband, father, son, brother, and friend who selflessly gave his life to protect the city he served,” Chief Rolon wrote.
He said the fallen officer’s wife and two young sons will always be a part of the OPD family.
“I ask everyone to keep Meghan, their kids, and the entire Valencia family in your prayers,” the chief added.
Officer Valencia will be laid to rest on March 24, WESH reported.
Heartbroken to learn of the passing of @OrlandoPolice Officer Kevin Valencia today. He was shot in the line of duty in June 2018. I was blessed to get to know his beautiful wife Meghan these past two years. Please keep the Valencia family & OPD family in your prayers. 🙏 #FOX35 pic.twitter.com/C02e7PsdPa
— Amy Kaufeldt FOX 35 (@Fox35Amy) March 15, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with Meghan, the kids and my @OrlandoPolice family. Officer Kevin Valencia risked his life for this community and paid the ultimate sacrifice. He is a hero and will be remembered forever #NeverForget https://t.co/qTboADCcqm
— Sheriff John Mina (@SheriffMina) March 15, 2021
This evening, Officer Kevin Valencia was escorted by our officers, as well as those from other agencies. Brother, we’ll take it from here… pic.twitter.com/UcywwuLdug
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) March 16, 2021
A true hero who fought until his last breath is now at peace.
Even those who never met Officer Kevin Valencia will honor him by stepping up to protect the innocent
— Mike Chitwood (@SheriffChitwood) March 16, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Orlando Police Department Officer Kevin Valencia, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Kevin Valencia, your life mattered.