Police kill man suspected of shooting Florida mom, 3 kids

May 3, 2023, 4:32 AM | Updated: 12:02 pm

LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) — After an hourslong standoff at a motel, police in central Florida fatally shot a man suspected of killing a 40-year-old woman and her three children, authorities said Wednesday.

Al Joseph Stenson, 38, quickly became a suspect Tuesday night after police were called to an apartment complex in Lake Wales, where the bodies of the woman and children, ages 21, 17, and 11, were found. Their names have not been released.

Investigators said Stenson and the victims knew each other, but did not describe their relationship or release a motive in the family’s killing.

After investigators tracked Stenson to the Slumberland Motel, he said “he would kill himself or force law enforcement to kill him,” Lakes Wales police said in a news release.

Stenson’s brother was staying at the same motel in Sanford, which is about a two-hour drive from Lake Wales, and police there said they learned the suspect was in the room next door.

Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said during a news conference at the motel that investigators convinced Stenson’s brother to come out of the room.

Eventually, Stenson also came outside, Lemma said. Authorities convinced him to put down his handgun and step away from it.

The SWAT team then shot him with a 40 mm foam projectile “but it had little effect” and Stenson “immediately went for the gun on the ground,” the sheriff said.

Four officers shot him and he died at the scene, Lemma said.

Investigators believe the victims were shot around 5 a.m. Tuesday. Police were called just before 9 p.m. when someone found their bodies in the apartment.

Stenson was wanted on four counts of first-degree murder, Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez said.

“Our hearts are broken” for the family, Velasquez said.

Earlier this week, authorities in Texas arrested a man suspected of manhunt. Francisco Oropeza, 38, was taken into custody Tuesday. The dead included a 9-year-old boy.

Authorities say Oropeza had been shooting rounds on his property and the neighbors asked him to go farther away because the noise was keeping a baby awake.

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Police kill man suspected of shooting Florida mom, 3 kids