Memorial grows as community, officials reacts to shootings of Kissimmee police officers

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The community is mourning the death of two Kissimmee officers shot in the line of duty Friday night.

The officers were shot in the area of Cypress and Palmway streets, police said.

Kissimmee police Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard were shot in a scuffle at about 9:30 p.m. Friday at Palmway and East Cypress streets near East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway and North Main Street, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said.

President Trump and the community have taken to Twitter to offer their condolences.

Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez said in a statement, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of our fallen officer, Matthew Baxter who lost his life in the line of duty on Friday, August 18th. Our prayers also go out to Sergeant Sam Howard and his family as he remains in critical condition. The entire City of Kissimmee is in mourning. We pray for all law enforcement who are out there, protecting our community."

Kissimmee Vice Mayor Wanda Rentas also released a statement: My sincere and heartfelt condolences to Officer Matthew Baxter wife, family, friends and KPD brother's and sister's. I'm heartbroken that his children will not have their daddy in their lives. God bless all the first responders as well as the men and women in blue."

Governor Rick Scott released the following statement:

A statement from Sheriff Demings on behalf of the 2500 men and women of the OCSO: Our prayers are for the slain and...

Posted by Orange County Sheriff's Office, Florida on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi released the following statement:

"Late last night, I spoke to Kissimmee Police Chief O'Dell after learning of the murder of Officer Matt Baxter and the shooting of Sergeant Sam Howard, who was gravely injured. We ask everyone to continue praying for the families of the Kissimmee officers as well as Officers Michael Fox and Kevin Gerald of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office who were also shot in the line of duty last night.

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.

Our thoughts and prayers are also with the two Pennsylvania Highway Patrol Troopers who were shot Friday night. Brave men and women throughout our country risk their lives each day to protect us and keep our children safe, and as a country we must do everything we can to support them."

Congressman Darren Soto released the following statement on the shooting:

“I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of Police Officer Matthew Baxter, one of our local heroes who died in the line of duty. On behalf of my family, staff, and the residents of Florida’s 9th district, we send our sincerest condolences to Baxter’s family and loved ones. We also join in prayer for the recovery of Sergeant Sam Howard who continues to be in critical condition.
Friday’s senseless act of violence against our Police Officers is appalling. We cannot tolerate it. As we mourn, let us honor our law enforcement officers by recognizing their indispensable contributions to our communities. I am grateful to all of the brave men and women at the Kissimmee Police Department for sacrificing their lives on a daily basis to keep Central Florida safe.
Following this horrific incident, I will be recognizing Officer Baxter and Sergeant Howard by calling for a moment of silence on the House floor and flying American flags over the U.S. Capitol in their honor.” 

Soto’s office said it has been in contact with KPD to offer any resources and assistance they may need on a federal level.