LAKE WALES, Fla. (WFLA) — Two people are dead after a Lake Wales hostage situation early Monday morning, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Neighbor Stanley Smith said the morning began with a knock on the door.
“[Police] told us to stay inside and get into the furthest part of the house,” he said.
Smith said his neighbor, Antonio Oliver, 40, was quiet but friendly.
“I always talked to him. He always speak. When I left to go to church yesterday morning, he spoke. My wife said he spoke to her, told her happy Easter,” said Smith. “Everything seemed normal.”
Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez at around 4:08 a.m., officers were called to a home on Lindsey Place for a domestic disturbance.
“The domestic disturbance involved children, and the caller had wanted the police to assist with removing the children from the residence,” Velasquez said.
According to the chief, the caller was a woman who wanted the children out of the house.
Velasquez said there was some prior domestic violence between the female caller and the suspect, 40-year-old Antonio Oliver.
However, when officers arrived, a child ran out of the home and told officers that Oliver was inside the home.
“They thought they heard a gun being cocked,” the chief said.
According to Velasquez, the officers tried to establish contact with Oliver through a PA system to come outside, but Oliver said he wanted to walk outside and let the officers shoot him.
“At one point, the suspect said not to shoot into the house,” the chief said. “The reason he said that was because he was essentially using the children that were inside as a shield.”
At around 7 a.m., officers heard a gunshot and entered the home, finding Oliver’s body at the front door.
Velasquez said officers also found the body of Oliver’s 19-year-old stepson in a back bedroom. However, he said the only shot officers heard was the one right before Oliver’s death, and it is not yet known when the teen was killed.
Sheriff Grady Judd said the officers found several long guns, semi-automatics, and handguns inside the home.
“We consider ourselves very, very lucky today,” Judd said. “Had he wanted to have a gunfight, he could have created a war.”
The entire hostage situation occurred over three hours, the chief said. Aside from Oliver and the 19-year-old, there were also two girls in the home, ages 16 and 14.
Judd said negotiators tried their best to get Oliver out of the house peacefully, even convincing him to call 911 to communicate.
“He talked to us, and he begged us to shoot him,” the sheriff said. “We told him no, we’re not going to shoot you.”
“He was dead set on shooting himself,” the sheriff said.
Velasquez said the investigation will take a long time to piece together what happened.