A stray bullet from a Florida police officer’s gun struck and killed a female college student inside an Orlando nightclub Tuesday morning, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Wednesday.
Officer Eduardo Sanguino was shooting at Kody Roach, 23, an armed and intoxicated patron of the club who bouncers had recently asked to leave.
Sanguino reportedly fired multiple times at the suspect but one of his bullets killed 22-year-old Maria Fernanda Godinez.
“I have a gun-wielding maniac,” one of the bartenders told 911 dispatchers as Roach banged on the door with the pistol just before 1 a.m. Tuesday. “He set it on the bar top and he (was) wielding it many times. I had to throw him out.”
When Sanguino and other officers responded to the call they found Roach still outside the bar, according to the New York Daily News. They ordered him to drop the weapon but he refused.
One officer fired a Taser at Roach but it failed to knock him down.
According to reports, Roach then turned to face another officer. That was when Sanguino opened fire.
"The preliminary indication is that during this situation a bullet was discharged from Officer Eduardo Sanguino's firearm and fatally struck Maria inside the establishment," Mina told WFTV.
Roach was hit multiple times but was not killed. He was last reported to be in stable condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Maria Godinez, who also goes by the name Maria Castillo, according to the Orlando Sentinel, was pronounced dead at an unnamed area hospital.
Godinez was a student at the University of Central Florida. Born in Guatemala, she grew up in Cocoa Beach, on Florida’s east coast, according to her cousin Norma Godinez.
She said her family and friends are still reeling from the tragedy.
“Until I see her body, I can't realize this is true,” Godinez said Wednesday. “We feel shock. I don't get it. I cannot believe what's going on.”
Arielle Smith, one of Maria Godinez’s friends, said it was difficult to talk about the shooting but she agreed to chat with reporters through Facebook.
“Maria was one of the greatest people I've ever met, a wonderful friend, and what happened to her is unfair,” she wrote.
Sanguino and another officer are on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.
It remains unclear if Sanguino was the only officer who fired at Roach.
Some reports indicate that Roach’s gun was not loaded, although officers would have had no way of knowing that at the time of the shooting.
No charges have been filed against Sanguino or Roach.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said he expected police would charge Roach with some form of felony murder for his role in causing the shooting death of Godinez.
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