Neighborhood where Kissimmee officers shot has crime-ridden history

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The McLaren Circle neighborhood, where two Kissimmee police officers were fatally shot Friday, has a long history of drugs and crime, residents and crime statistics show.

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

Baxter died of his injuries at the scene. Howard succumbed Saturday to his injuries at Osceola Regional Medical Center.

Stella Hunter and her granddaughter visited the area to plant a flower and place a card at the spot where the officers were shot and killed.

“I wanted to do something to say that we in the neighborhood do care about the police department,” Hunter said. “They’re heroes—unsung heroes.”

In the McLaren Circle neighborhood, heroes are hard to come by. Signs warn about the penalties to people dealing drugs.

Many people said they were too scared to speak with Channel 9’s Jeff Levkulich about the crime problem. John Robeson, who lives a couple blocks away from the shooting, said he heard the shots.

“It’s terrible. This neighborhood is awful. It’s grown in the past five years I’ve lived in the neighborhood,” said Robeson.

Channel 9 has been covering crime in the neighborhood for more than a decade. In 2008, federal agents carried out a massive drug sting, netting 19 arrests.

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

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