Man releases daughter after 24-hour standoff, kills himself inside Lakeland home

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) - Deputies say an armed man who barricaded himself inside a Lakeland home with his 6-year-old daughter has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says 39-year-old Gary Cauley released the child from the home Sunday afternoon, after holding her hostage for 24 hours. 

Investigators say Cauley had the girl barricaded inside the home with him after an argument with his estranged wife. Sheriff Grady Judd says Cauley showed up to the woman’s home around 4 a.m. Saturday and continued arguing with her throughout the day.

Things escalated around 1 p.m. when deputies say Cauley learned the woman was planning on going to the beach with her daughter and another man.

Cauley then armed himself with a handgun, threatened to harm himself and refused to let his daughter leave.

In a news conference Saturday evening, Sheriff Judd said detectives spoke with Cauley on the phone when the wife called 911. They heard the daughter laughing and playing in the background at the time and did not believe she was in any immediate danger.

"He truly appears to love her," Sheriff Judd said on Saturday. "We're going to do everything in our power to resolve this peacefully and keep this 6-year-old safe. We are getting zero indication from Gary that he is threatening any violence toward her."

Mobile County

Baldwin County

Northwest Florida