• Community holds candlelight vigil for Kissimmee officers killed in the line of duty

    By: Ken Tyndall


    KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Numerous members of the Kissimmee community came together Thursday night to hold a candlelight vigil for two Kissimmee police officers killed in the line of duty Friday.

    Sgt. Sam Howard and officer Matthew Baxter were shot while responding to a call.

    Shelli Costa, the mother of another officer, spoke at the vigil about the tragedy of the deaths.

    “I happened to be at the swearing-in, when my son was sworn into Kissimmee a few weeks ago, when Howard was sworn in as a promotion to sergeant,” Costa said. “So, it’s very personal.”

    The candles lighting up the faces of those in attendance illuminated the strong emotions they were feeling, like Patrice Denike, who brought her grandchildren Thursday.

    Their father serves as a deputy and she said the deaths have affected them greatly.

    “Even at 8 years old, they realize what happened, and what they have to live with as well,” Denike said.

    Friday will mark a week since the shooting that resulted in Howard and Baxter’s deaths, and while emotions are still raw, Xiomara Lisboa knew the community would recover.

    “It’s hard, hard,” Lisboa said. “But we’ll get through it. And we’ve gone through things before, and we’ll get through this as well.”

    Some good has come out of the tragedy as well, said Orange County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Daniel Rivera.

    “I believe that this is the beginning of what we have always wanted, to unify our community and win back our streets to the decent people of this county,” he said.


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