A man accused of killing a Florida mom and her three children was shot and killed by officers at a motel early Wednesday after an hours-long standoff with police, according to authorities.
A manhunt for 38-year-old Al Joseph Stenson was issued after police responding to a medical call Tuesday evening at a Lake Wales apartment complex found a woman and her three children, one adult and two juveniles, dead from apparent gunshot wounds, the Lake Wales Police Department said in a news release.
Stenson fled to a motel in Sanford, where his brother was staying, authorities said.
Once Stenson was located – by his vehicle outside the motel – the SWAT team took over negotiations, according to Seminole County Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma.
Negotiations worked “so well,” that at one point the team was able to convince Stenson to exit the motel room.
“We were able to take the brother to safety … and then the negotiations were continuing for hours,” Lemma said. “I mean, the last thing we want have to do is use lethal force. Ideally, we would like to talk somebody and bring them into custody.”
According to police, Stenson “made statements that he would kill himself or force law enforcement to kill him.”
Ultimately, negotiators convinced Stenson to put a firearm that he was carrying down on the ground and step away from it. As he stepped away from that firearm, the SWAT team deployed a less lethal 40-millimeter foam projectile in an attempt to “neutralize the threat” and allow officers to apprehend the suspect, Lemma said.
“We successfully deployed that, but it had little effect on the suspect, the sheriff said. “The suspect immediately went for the gun on the ground. And at this time, we don’t know if he actually picked the gun up, put it in his hand, but he was going for the firearm, when … three of our SWAT team members, one member of the specialized unit of the Sanford Police Department, opened fire, neutralizing the threat and the suspect is now deceased.”
A motive for the murders is not clear, however police said the victims were known to Stenson.
Stenson was being charged with four counts of first-degree murder.