• Kissimmee business owners organize market to raise funds for slain officers' families

    By: Jason Kelly


    KISSIMMEE, Fla. - About two dozen local businesses will set up shop Wednesday evening in downtown Kissimmee to raise funds for the families of two slain police officers.

    Residents are invited to shop at a "Back the Blue" market in the parking lot of Breeze, a bar at Broadway and East Dakin Avenue.

    Event organizers said the market will serve as both a fundraiser and an opportunity for the community to begin healing. Wednesday's event is scheduled to last from 6 to 10 p.m. Click here for a list of vendors.

    "We're strong. We're still here. We're going to still be here," said Diana Marrero-Pinto with Kissimmee Main Street.

    Donate: Kissimmee creates fund for families of slain police officers

    © 2018 Cox Media Group.
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    Read: 4 Rivers Kissimmee to open Sunday to raise funds for slain officers' families

    Tom Lanier, who owns an antique mall in downtown Kissimmee, said he was heartbroken when he learned of the fatal shootings of Kissimmee police Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard.

    "It made me actually sick to my stomach," Lanier said. "The police have been very protective of the downtown area. We really appreciate that."

    Julio Rocha, another downtown business owner, said she hung a "Back the Blue" sign in her storefront to show her support of law enforcement officers.

    Read: Community gathers to celebrate birthday of slain Kissimmee police officer’s daughter

    Read: Police escort body of slain Kissimmee police sergeant

    "Five children have lost (fathers)," she said. "I have two (children). It really (hit) home for me."

    Rocha said a larger fundraising event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday on East Dakin Avenue, not far from the Kissimmee Police Department. The event will feature a barbecue, musical performances and remarks by local officials.

    "We want to raise as much (money) as possible," she said. "But what we're really hoping for is unity."

    Read: Vigil held for fallen Kissimmee police officers

    Kissimmee Police Department
    Kissimmee Police Department

    Watch: Escort of slain Kissimmee police officer Matthew Baxter's body

    Kissimmee police spokeswoman Stacie Miller said the community's show of support since the officers' deaths has been amazing.

    "We've been just humbled and honored that our community has wrapped its arms around this department," Miller said. "It's our job now to take care of them because Matt and Sam can't. That's what we are going to do."

    Baxter and Howard's funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church of Orlando. The First Baptist Church of Kissimmee will host a vigil at 8 p.m. Thursday. Attendants are asked to bring a blue candle.

    4 Rivers Smokehouse, which is typically closed on Sundays, will open its Kissimmee location on Sunday for a fundraiser. All profits will be donated to the fallen officers' families.

    Photos: Community honors fallen Kissimmee officers

    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

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