2nd Kissimmee officer dies after shooting

Police arrest two suspects; one suspect still at large

By Adrienne Cutway, Web Editor

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Two Kissimmee police officers are dead after being shot killed Friday night while responding to a suspicious person call in an area known for drug activity, according to Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell.

Officer Matthew Baxter died overnight at Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee. Sgt. Sam Howard passed away Saturday afternoon at the same hospital, officials said. 

Everett Miller was taken into custody after the shooting. O'Dell described him as a "strong suspect."

Baxter and Howard responded to a call at Palmway and Cypress streets in Kissimmee at 9:27 p.m. and came into contact with four people, police said.

Both men were shot at 9:32 p.m., O'Dell said.

“It looked like they were surprised,” O'Dell said, adding that the officers did not return fire.

One of the officers was shot in the head at close range, a source told Orlando TV station WKMG. Both men were wearing their Kissimmee Police Department uniforms and body armor.

Sgt. Sam Howard and Officer Matthew Baxters died after they were shot Friday night in Kissimmee.

IMAGES: 2 Kissimmee Police officers shot

Everett Miller was taken into the custody after the shooting. O'Dell described him as a "strong suspect."

O'Dell said it is believed that Miller was only one shooter and used an unknown firearm. 

Another man was taken into custody after authorities found him at Roscoe's Bar, sources told News 6.

WKMG video from Kissimmee showed crime scene tape and a heavy law enforcement presence outside Roscoe's Bar, which is about a block away from the scene of the shooting.

There is one more person at large. Police said they also located and interviewed a person of interest Sunday. That person was not being named a suspect.

The Florida Highway Patrol issued an advisory, warning drivers to stay out of the area near the intersection of U.S. 192 and Orange Blossom Trail due to heavy police activity.

Several law enforcement agencies are assisting with the case.

Condolences from local authorities and politicians quickly poured in on social media as news of the fatal shooting spread Friday night. Gov. Rick Scott called O’Dell at 11:35 p.m., according to his schedule.

O'Dell said Baxter was a three-year veteran and Howard was a 10-year veteran. Both men are husbands and fathers.

"(The families) are completely heartbroken and devastated. These were beloved fathers and husbands and sons, and so we are doing everything in our power to support them and their families at this time," O'Dell said.

Baxter's body was taken early Saturday by a procession of law enforcement officers from across Central Florida to the Osceola County Medical Examiner's Office for further investigation.

Officials initially said two officers had died in the shooting, and then O'Dell told the media early Saturday morning that one officer had died and the other was being treated.

O'Dell said that his department was struggling with the loss of their fellow officers.

"Although we're aware of what goes on, you know, in law enforcement across the nation, we haven't experienced this in over 25 years," O'Dell said.

Up until Friday night, it had been 34 years since a Kissimmee Police Department officer was killed in the line of duty.

Two officers were also shot Friday night in Jacksonville Friday night, police said. Both are in stable condition.

"This horrific violence against law enforcement will not be tolerated, and as attorney general, I will continue to ensure those who commit violence against our law enforcement officers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Attorney General Pam Bondi said. 

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