Officer Baxter and Kissimmee Police Sergeant Sam Howard were ambushed after responding to a call of suspicious persons and activity, according to WFTV. The incident occurred about 9:30 PM at Palmway Street and East Cypress Street near East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway and North Main Street.
Officer Baxter and Sergeant Howard were talking with three individuals when a fourth individual emerged from the darkness and opened fire. The first 911 call came in about 9:32 PM from unidentified callers, that two police officers were injured and lying in the street. Multiple officers from different agencies responded, called for EMS, and provided assistance to the fallen officers.
Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O'Dell said that both Officer Baxter and Sergeant Howard were transported to Osceola Regional Medical Center, where Officer Baxter died. Sergeant Howard was listed in critical condition overnight and succumbed to his injuries Saturday afternoon.
He said that both officers were in full uniform and never had the chance to return fire.
Two of the three suspicious individuals have been located and are being interviewed by Kissimmee officers. The third individual is still being sought, and anyone with information on his location or on the incident is asked to call 911.
The suspect who shot the officers, Everett Miller, has been arrested. Chief O'Dell said that he will be transferred later on Saturday to the Osceola County Jail in Officer Baxter's handcuffs, according to WESH.
Miller was located about 11:30 PM by an unidentified Osceola County Sheriff's Deputy at Roscoe's Bar & Package at North Main and Tremont Streets, and tackled by the deputy. He was taken into custody, and two firearms were found in his possession, a 9mm pistol and a .22 caliber revolver. He was arrested and has been charged with one count of murder.
Kissimmee Sergeant Sam Howard leaves behind a wife and daughter.
Chief O'Dell said, "This is a tough time in law enforcement. I would ask that you pray for the men and women of law enforcement."
Flags have been lowered to half-staff in Florida. In a social media post, President Trump said, "My thoughts and prayers are with the Kissimmee Police and their loved ones. We are with you!" Florida Governor Rick Scott said that he was heartbroken, and "Our law enforcement officers are true heroes and we will miss these brave Floridians."
The City of Kissimmee has set up a bank account through SunTrust for those who would like to donate to the fallen officers’ families. The account will be titled City of Kissimmee – Officer Matthew Baxter and Sergeant Sam Howard. Donations can be made at any SunTrust Bank beginning Monday, August 21, 2017.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kissimmee Police Sergeant Sam Howard, both blood and blue. Godspeed, sir, we will take the watch from here. Thank you for your service.
Sergeant Sam Howard, your life mattered.