• Slain Kissimmee officer's instructions saved her life, witness says

    By: Jeff Deal

    Updated:

    KISSIMMEE,, Fla. - A witness who was told to leave the scene moments before two Kissimmee police officers were shot to death said their instructions likely saved her life.

    Maribel Gonzales King was with two other people in the area of Palmway and Cypress streets when officer Matthew Baxter approached them and asked about a nearby beer can on Aug. 18.

    When no one claimed it, Baxter kicked the beer over.

    Moments later, a man, believed to be Everett Miller, pulled up and parked behind Baxter’s patrol vehicle and confronted the officer about bothering the trio, court documents said.

    King told investigators that Miller asked Baxter to call his supervisor, Sgt. Sam Howard, and have him come to the scene.

    According to a police report, after Howard arrived, Miller put his hands on his head and said, “I’m in fear of my life. I’m a veteran and I have a right to carry concealed (weapons).”

    Howard then yelled for King and the two people with her to leave -- an action that she told investigators likely saved her life.

    Moment after she walked away, King said she heard gunshots.

    “(She) was convinced sergeant Howard’s actions, by making her leave, saved her life,” a police report said.

    Baxter and Howard were both shot during the encounter and were rushed to Osceola Regional Hospital.

    Baxter died that night and Howard died the next day.

    Miller was arrested and charged with their deaths.

    Investigators believe ballistic evidence links one of Miller’s guns to the killings and said Howard’s blood was found on the suspect’s car.

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