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Thursday, Nov 23, 2017
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Second Kissimmee police officer dies after Friday shooting

KISSIMMEE — A Marine veteran who once worked for U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two Kissimmee police officers.

Officer Matthew Baxter, a three-year veteran, died Friday night, and a second officer, Sgt. Sam Howard, died Saturday, Kissimmee police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

Everett Glenn Miller, 45, was arrested Friday.

Miller once served as the senior enlisted adviser to the U.S. Special Operations Command Joint Intelligence Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, according to spokesman Ken McGraw.

McGraw said he was told Miller retired from SOCom in 2010, but his service records were not immediately available.

Miller was recently involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation by the Osceola County Sheriff's Office. The early stages of the investigation show that Miller had made threats to law enforcement on Facebook, the Kissimmee police chief said.

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 responded as backup, the police chief said.

The officers didn't have an opportunity to return fire. They wore body armor under their uniforms but they weren't wearing body cameras.

Deputies with a neighboring law enforcement agency later tracked Miller 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. He was also charged with resisting arrest and carrying a concealed handgun.

The police chief said Miller would be taken to jail wearing a fallen officer's handcuffs.

Authorities originally said they thought there were four suspects, but the chief said Saturday that no other arrests are anticipated.

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, had served with the Kissimmee Police Department for 10 years. He and his wife had one child, O'Dell said.

"I am so proud of the sworn and civilian members of our department by acting quickly to identify the suspect and bring him to justice," O'Dell said. "We will mourn over the next few days . . . we will get through this and we love them for what they do."

President Donald J. Trump tweeted Friday night: "My thoughts and prayers are with the @kissimmeepolice and their loved ones. We are with you!"

Gov. Rick Scott tweeted he was heartbroken by the news. "Tonight we lost a brave officer — Matthew Baxter. Husband/father/hero. Praying for @kissimmeepolice," Scott wrote.

In a separate event in Jacksonville overnight Friday, two Jacksonville police offers were shot responding to an attempted suicide, authorities said.

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 man who was killed by the officers.

Williams said at a news conference that the suspect, Derrick Brabham, was making threats inside a home with his girlfriend, their 19-month-old baby and another woman. None of them were injured.

After officers arrived at the home, they heard gunfire from inside and decided to enter the house.

The sheriff says Brabham opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle as they entered the house.

Residents flocked to Kissimmee police headquarters Saturday, bringing food and shaking the hands of officers to express their condolences. At 5:35 p.m., they had a moment of silence near a memorial for fallen officers outside.

O'Dell said the news is especially difficult for members of his agency, as they must press forward while suffering the loss of two co-workers and friends.

"We do not get to stop and cry for someone we've lost or mourn our hero," O'Dell said. "At the time we go through it, the men and women of law enforcement are required to continue working and bring this individual to justice."

A prayer vigil will be held at the Hope Mission Church, 1431 Palmway St., at 3 p.m. today. The church sits at the intersection where Howard and Baxter were shot.

The city of Kissimmee has set up an account with SunTrust Bank for the Howard and Baxter's families. Donors can go to any SunTrust Bank location beginning Monday to contribute, a city spokeswoman said.

The Kissimmee Police department has more than 100 officers. O'Dell took over the department in August 2016.

Information from the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report.

     
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