By Dan Sanchez and David OK, The New York Times
Two police officers have died after being shot Friday night in Kissimmee, Fla., in what the police chief said may have been an ambush while they were responding to a call complaining of suspicious activity on the city’s north side.
It was one of three cases on Friday night in which a total of six law enforcement officers were shot in Florida and Pennsylvania.
In Kissimmee, about 20 miles south of Orlando, the officers were found around 9:30 p.m. at the intersection of Palmway and East Cypress Streets after residents reported the shooting, Chief Jeffrey O’Dell said.
(‘Beyond the Badge’ host Vincent Hill reacts after Kissimmee Police Department says sergeant has died. Courtesy of Beyond the Badge, Fox News and YouTube.)
They were identified as Officer Matthew Baxter, who had been on the force for three years, and Sgt. Sam Howard, a 10-year veteran.
Officer Baxter died shortly after the shooting and Sergeant Howard died Saturday afternoon.
Everett Glenn Miller was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, Chief O’Dell said at a news conference on Saturday morning.
He was being brought to jail in Officer Baxter’s handcuffs, the chief said.
The shooting occurred during what Chief O’Dell called a “consensual encounter to get out and check.”
“Nobody was being placed in handcuffs,” the chief said.
“If all things checked out, the officers would have been on their way.”
Chief O’Dell said officers are often called to North Kissimmee.
Residents, he said, “get tired of putting up with some of the drug dealing and nonsense that goes on in the neighborhood.”
He added, “And we’re doing our part to try to keep them safe, and then we have this tonight.”
(Two Kissimmee police officers, Sgt. Sam Howard and officer Matthew Baxter, were shot in the line of duty Friday. Baxter died of his injuries. Howard was gravely injured. They were investigating a report of shots fired near the intersection of Palmway and East Cypress streets in Kissimmee at the time. Courtesy of ABC Action News and YouTube)
In a statement, Gov. Rick Scott said: “Today, I join every Floridian to honor these law enforcement officers, their brothers and sisters in uniform, and their families,” adding that the episode should “be a constant reminder of the sacrifice of those who serve to keep us safe.”
The Kissimmee shooting was the first of two attacks on Florida police officers Friday night.
Two sheriff’s officers in Jacksonville were wounded when they responded to a call about a man making threats to hurt himself and others, officials said.
The gunman, identified as Derrick Brabham, 25, fired at them with a semiautomatic rifle around 11 p.m., Sheriff Mike Williams said at a news conference on Saturday.
The police believe Mr. Brabham, who was killed during the altercation, had been drinking, Sheriff Williams said.
(Two officers are recovering in an area hospital and one suspect is dead following a Friday night shooting on the West Side in Jacksonville. Courtesy of First Coast News and YouTube)
The officers, Michael Fox, an 11-year veteran of the force who was undergoing surgery for hand injuries, and Kevin Jarrell, who was alert and “in good spirits” despite having been shot in the stomach beneath his protective vest, were both in stable condition, Sheriff Williams said, adding that it’s “a long road back for both of them.”
Rifles are designed to be shot at a long distance, Sheriff Williams said, and body armor cannot stop the velocity of a round.
The gunman’s girlfriend and their 19-month-old baby were in the house, in addition to the girlfriend’s mother and a family friend. Nobody else was injured.
“No doubt in my mind that they saved those women’s lives,” Sheriff Williams said of the officers.
In Fairchance, Pa., on Friday two State Police troopers were shot during a burglary investigation.
(A Pennsylvania state trooper was critically injured when he was shot by a suspect in a robbery investigation before officers returned fire killing the shooter, state police said Saturday. Courtesy of CBS Philly and YouTube)
The troopers, who were in plainclothes, arranged to meet the gunman, identified as Clarence A. Belsar III, 26, after he agreed to sell them a PlayStation console that was believed to have been stolen, Capt. Joseph D. Ruggery said during a news conference on Saturday.
Mr. Belsar reached into his waistband and pulled out a .38 caliber revolver and fired one round at the troopers, striking one in the left hand and the second in the abdomen.
The troopers, who were not identified, then shot Mr. Belsar, who died at the scene, Captain Ruggery said.
One of the troopers was released from the hospital, the captain said. The other was in critical condition and was expected to survive.