Two police officers shot in Kissimmee on Friday night have died from their injuries and the suspect involved in the shooting was arrested in a bar hours after the attack.
Everett Miller faces a charge of first-degree murder for the killing of Officer Matthew Baxter, who died Friday night after the attack. Sgt. Sam Howard died Saturday afternoon, and authorities hadn’t yet said what charges he could face for that.
The shooting took place in the area of Cypress and Palmway streets about 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.
According to ABC affiliate WFTV in Orlando, numerous law enforcement agencies were called to respond to the shooting scene in Kissimmee, including the St. Cloud Police Department, Orlando Police Department, Orange County Sheriff's Office, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
During a patrol late Friday of a neighborhood with a history of drug activity, Baxter was “checking out” three people, including Miller, when the officer got into a scuffle with Miller. Howard, his sergeant, responded as backup, said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell. Kissimmee is located south of the theme park hub of Orlando, Florida.
The officers didn’t have an opportunity to return fire. They weren’t wearing body cameras.
Sheriff’s deputies with a neighboring law enforcement agency later tracked Miller down to a bar and approached him. Miller started reaching toward his waistband when the deputies tackled and subdued him, O’Dell said.
The found a handgun and revolver on him.
“They were extremely brave and heroic actions taken by the deputies,” O’Dell said.
The police chief said Miller was taken to jail wearing Baxter’s handcuffs.
Authorities originally said they believed there were four suspects, but the chief said Saturday that no other arrests are anticipated.
Miller, 45, was a Marine veteran and was recently involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. The early stages of the investigation shows that Miller had made threats to law enforcement on Facebook, O’Dell said.
Baxter, 27, had been with the Kissimmee Police Department for three years. He was married to another Kissimmee police officer and they have four children.
Howard, 36, has served with the Kissimmee Police Department for 10 years. He and his wife have one child, O’Dell said.
“They are two wonderful men, family men,” O’Dell said. “They are two committed to doing it the right way.”
ABC Action News spoke exclusively with Stephanie Santiago, she shares a two-year-old daughter named Isabella with Officer Baxter.
“I just can’t believe this is happening, I can’t believe that he’s not here anymore.” said Santiago.
Santiago found out on the news that the father of her child, Officer Baxter, was shot dead.
“This is not real, this is not happening to us it cannot be him," she said of the thoughts that immediately ran through her mind.
Friday night, Officer Baxter answered a call of a drug crime in downtown Kissimmee. Sergeant Sam Howard came as back-up when investigators say 45-year-old Everette Glenn Miller opened fire. Police Chief Jeff O’Dell says both officers were caught by surprise. Neither gun was unholstered. Officer Baxter was instantly shot dead and Sgt. Howard followed him hours later at the hospital.
“These guys do a lot for our community and a lot of the time they don’t get the love that they deserve," said Matt Kowalewski who dropped off flowers and left a heart-felt note at the officers' memorial in front of Kissimmee PD. Like others, he wanted to make sure officers sees the community as caring of their sacrifice.
“And I’m so proud of him," said Santiago, "He went to work and he risked his life for us.”
Miller, a marine veteran, was arrested last night at Roscoe's Bar & Packaging and charged with first degree murder. ABC Action News went to his neighborhood and those who knew him were alarmed to hear of Miller's arrest.
“I’m shocked by the news because he’s a very responsible man, very friendly. We were friends," said neighbor Rodolfo Camero.
However, Santiago says actions speak louder than words.
“He has to pay, he has to pay because everything you do in this life has consequence," she said.
Now it is her duty to make sure their daughter never forgets him.
Separately, other two officers were injured late Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, after police responded to reports of an attempted suicide at a home where the mother of his child, their 19-month-old toddler, the woman’s mother and a family friend were thought to be in danger. One of the officers was shot in both hands and the other was shot in the stomach.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Saturday that officers Michael Fox and Kevin Jarrell are in stable condition following Friday night’s confrontation with an armed Derrick Brabham, who was killed by the officers.
In Pennsylvania, two state troopers were shot and a suspect killed outside a small-town store south of Pittsburgh on Friday night.
President Trump tweeted early Saturday that his thoughts and prayers were with the Kissimmee Police Department. “We are with you!” he said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted he was heartbroken by the news of Baxter’s death and was praying for a quick recovery for Howard.
If you'd like to help out the family of Stephanie Santiago and their care of two-year-old Isabella Baxter, click here for their GoFundMe campaign.
In earlier versions of this story, ABC Action News incorrectly reported that Sgt. Howard died on Friday. ABC Action News regrets the error.