ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando police confirmed Friday that a man
suspected in a deadly mass shooting inside a downtown Orlando office building
has been taken into custody.
The suspect, Jason Rodriguez, 40, is a former employee of
Reynolds, Smith & Hill, a construction engineering firm with offices on the
eighth floor of the Gateway Center, the site of the shooting.
One person is dead and five are confirmed shot in the
attack, which took place about 11:45 a.m. EST. The shooter used a handgun,
A SWAT team spotted the suspect more than two hours after
the attack through a window at his mother’s residence.
Rodriguez came out of the home without incident, Orlando
Police Chief Val Demings said.
Witnesses at the Hollowbrook Apartments saw a SWAT team
sweep into the complex to arrest Rodriguez before 2:30 p.m.
A neighbor said Rodriguez has lived with his mother in her
apartment since September.
Yahaira Milkez, 19, has lived at the complex about two
months. She saw the suspect’s arrest from her second-floor window. He was led
out wearing a striped green shirt, she said.
“I just heard screaming. They (police) said, Come out
with your hands in the air.” The suspect complied calmly, she said.
“He didn’t resist,” Milkez said.
Marvin Higgins, who has lived at the complex for two months,
said a plainclothes officer came into his building and “told me to go back
into my house.”
As they brought the suspect out in handcuffs, Higgins said,
“he was calm.”
After the arrest, the suspect was greeted by reporters just
outside the police department’s doors.
“Why did you do it?” one television reporter
“Because they left me to rot,” Rodriguez said, who
was terminated by the engineering company in 2007.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer confirmed that the victims were all
employees of Reynolds, Smith & Hill.
Camille Previlon came to Orlando Regional Medical Center’s
emergency room Friday afternoon hoping to see her uncle Guy Lugenbeel, an
engineer who she said worked on the first floor. She had gotten a phone call
from Lugunbeel’s wife telling her about the shooting. She said he had been shot
in the back and was headed into surgery.
Previlon was not allowed in to see him but said Lugenbeel’s
wife told her “someone just walked in there and started blasting.”
“How can people be so heartless?” Previlon said.
“It’s very senseless, you know.”
Three of the four victims were taken to Orlando Regional
Medical Center. All were potentially going into surgery, and were being evaluated
for gunshot wounds. Their ages range from 23 to 49.
Two other victims were taken to Florida Hospital Orlando.
Spokesman Joe Brown said their conditions were “various
shades of stable.”
Gov. Charlie Crist stopped by the hospital Friday afternoon.
He met with three of the patients and their family members. “They said
they felt very lucky and blessed to be alive,” he said.
Police received their first call about the incident at 11:44
a.m., and arrived at the Gateway Center by 11:49 a.m.
As events unfolded, the building’s occupants had little
information about where the gunman was and what they should do. Employees at
the Nature’s Table Cafe in the building said they had secured themselves, but
they had little sense of what was taking place. .
“Me and my employees are on lockdown and our doors are
barricaded,” said Melinda Velez, the cafe manager.”
They communicated with loved ones outside cell phones and
“We’ve got everybody in one office, with the door
barricaded with a chest of drawers. There are about 20 of us in here. We’re
scared,” one woman said as she was inside the building. She asked her name
and that of her business not be used because she fears for her life.
After 1 p.m., she and her office mates were told it was safe
to leave. They took cover across the street.
“It’s all a little surreal right now. With what
happened in Texas yesterday, this just seemed like something that happens to
other people, and now here it is so close to home. It’s a state of disbelief
and shock … very surreal.”
Via McClatchy-Tribune News Service.