Police: 2 Kissimmee police officers fatally shot

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Two Kissimmee police officers are dead after they were shot Friday evening while checking out a report of a suspicious person, Kissimmee police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

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, O’Dell said.
Baxter died of his injuries at the scene. Howard succumbed to his injuries at Osceola Regional Medical Center Saturday.

The officers were being proactive when they interacted with three people and didn't handcuff them, O’Dell said.

The deputy tackled Miller, who had a 9 mm pistol and .22-caliber revolver on him, O'Dell said. Miller was charged with one count of first-degree murder.

Details of the exchange between Baxter, Howard and Miller haven't been released.

Watch the Kissimmee police chief's news conference below:

Police said two other people were being questioned, but no other arrests are anticipated.
Baxter, who was hired by the agency three years ago, was married to another Kissimmee police officer. The couple has four small children.

Howard, who was raised in the area, was hired by the agency 10 years ago, O'Dell said. Channel 9 learned that he had a daughter and that his wife is a teacher at Central Avenue Elementary School, which is two blocks away from where the shooting occurred.

"This is a tough time in law enforcement," O'Dell said. "I would ask that you pray for the men and women of law enforcement."

The principal of Central Avenue Elementary School, Sharon Hahn, said the school is working out plans to help faculty and students cope with the tragedy.

"One of the things we talked about this morning is just making sure that when the kids come back on Monday that we talk to the kids about what happened," she said. "And that we talk to the kids about how we need love and peace in the world."

O'Dell said officers and residents will continue to mourn in the coming days, but he said, "We will get through this."

He said that the shootings aren't a reflection of the community.

"I'm so proud of the sworn and civilian members of our department for bringing the suspect to justice," O'Dell said. "We've got to come together as a nation and get our community involved."

The City of Kissimmee has set up a bank account through SunTrust for those who would like to donate to the fallen officers’ families. Donations can be made at any SunTrust Bank beginning Monday, officials said.

Watch: Details on the 2 offers shot in the line of duty

Baxter was the first Kissimmee police officer to die in the line of duty more than two decades. Kissimmee police Sgt. Douglas Odell Parsons died in 1993 of a heart attack after a department physical fitness test.