Two Florida officers fatally shot Friday night, suspect arrested

KISSIMMEE, Fla.  — A suspect in the fatal shootings two police officers in Florida  was arrested several hours after the attack in a bar, authorities said Saturday.

Everett Miller faces a charge of first-degree murder for the killing of Officer Matthew Baxter and  Sgt. Sam Howard, said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell at a news conference Saturday. Kissimmee is located south of the theme park hub of Orlando, Florida.

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, the police chief said.

The officers didn’t have an opportunity to return fire. They weren’t wearing body cameras.

Howard was critically wounded and then died at the hospital on Saturday afternoon.

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 would be taken to jail wearing the fallen officer’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.

As of Saturday morning, Howard was in “grave, critical condition” at the hospital, O’Dell said.

“It’s grave. Not much hope that he will survive this,” the police chief 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.”

Separately, other two officers were injured late Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, after police responded to reports of an attempted suicide at a home where three other people were thought to be in danger. One of the officers was shot in both hands and the other was shot in the stomach.

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.