Communication Builds Our Community

UPDATE: Quadruple Murder Suspect Killed In Police Shootout

Lake Wales High School Teacher, Family Were Victims

May 3, 2023- Quadruple murder suspect Al Joseph Stenson has been killed in a shootout with police after fleeing to a motel in Sanford, Florida, Lake Wales Police have reported. Police believe that Stenson may have murdered a mother and her three children early yesterday morning.

Stenson was the only suspect in a horrific quadruple-murder that took place in Lake Wales Tuesday. Police confirmed that he was known to the victims, and was likely injured during the predawn event.

During an investigation detectives determined Stenson shot the victims in an apartment at Dawnlight Drive in Sunrise Apartments at approximately 5:00 am before fleeing the scene. The crime was reported to police at 8:51 pm when the victims were discovered by family members.

When officers arrived on the scene they found a mother and her three children, one adult and two juveniles, dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez conducted a pre-dawn press conference to announce that the suspect had been located and that there was no further threat to the community.

"it's absolutely a tragedy what we've dealt with and what we've experienced tonight, and what a number of families have experienced tonight," Velasquez told gathered media.

According to Seminole County law enforcement officials, the suspect was tracked to Sanford by Lake Wales investigators to the Sanford motel at 2:00 am. After confirming that the suspect's vehicle was parked across the street, they learned that Stenson's brother, who was not suspected in the crime, was in the room with the suspect. He was eventually brought out of the room and the Seminole SWAT team continued negotiating with Stenson for several hours in an attempt to convince him to surrender.

According to an interview statement, at some point Stenson was convinced to place a weapon on the ground and step away from it. At that point police launched a "non-lethal" projectile at him, which had no effect. He then lunged for the weapon, and posted officers opened fire, killing him.

The motive for the murders is unknown, however the victims and the suspect knew each other. Social media reports have identified two of the victims as Marlene Pizarro and her 17-year-old daughter Ariana Pizarro. The mother was a teacher of ESE at Lake Wales High School, while her daughter was a student there who expected to graduate this month. Pizarro was also the mother of the other two victims. Officers believe Stenson may have been living with the family at the apartment.

Lake Wales Charter Schools has brought in counselors and support staff to assist students and teachers who have been affected by the tragic events.

This case remains an active investigation. Law enforcement is asking anyone with information regarding the case to contact Lake Wales Police Detective Ricky Hartwell at 863-678-4223.

Anyone wising to remain anonymous and be eligible for a CASH REWARD through Heartland Crime Stoppers may call 1-800-226 TIPS (8477), or:

● From your cell phone, dial **TIPS

● Visit the website and click on "Submit A Tip,"

● Or download the free "P3tips" app on a smartphone or tablet.


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