2nd Kissimmee officer dies after Friday shooting

By Anthony Leone, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Saturday, August 19, 2017, 6:58 PM EDT

Sgt. Richard "Sam" Howard died Saturday afternoon after being gravely wounded Friday during a shooting that also took the life of Officer Matthew Baxter, according to the Kissimmee Police Department. 

Howard, 36, was shot along with Baxter during an encounter with Everett Glenn Miller and two others along Palmway and Cypress streets, Kissimmee's Police Chief Jeff O'Dell said during a press conference Saturday morning.

Howard, a 10-year veteran of the department, was married with one child. Howard was also Baxter's supervisor.

Miller, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Baxter, a three-year veteran of the force who was married to another Kissimmee police officer and a father of four. Miller has also been charged with resisting arrest without violence and carrying a concealed weapon.

Currently, Miller has not been charged  in Howard's death.

There is no manhunt for another suspect. O'Dell clarified police were searching for a witness who came to them during the night. O'Dell said that they are searching for video of the shooting and other witnesses.

O'Dell described the incident as it happened Friday night:  

At about 9:27 p.m., the 27-year-old Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard, who came later as a backup, came to Palmway and Cypress streets, an area known for drug activity, and encountered three people, one of them being Miller.

"(There) may have been some type of a scuffle ensued, ultimately ending in the shooting, taking Officer Baxter's life," O'Dell said, adding that the officers weren't able to return fire.

Howard was gravely wounded and there's "not much hope he will survive this," O'Dell said Saturday morning.

The two officers were taken to Osceola Regional Medical Center, where Baxter died on Friday night.

A body-camera-wearing program has started this week, and more devices will be delivered to the Kissimmee Police Department in the next few weeks. Baxter and Howard weren't wearing body cameras Friday night, O'Dell said.

At around 11:30 p.m., Osceola County Sheriff's Office detectives encountered Miller at Roscoe's Bar & Packaging and tackled him to the ground after Miller reached for his waistband, O'Dell said. A 9mm handgun and a .22-caliber revolver were found on Miller's person. O'Dell said it is to be determined if one of the guns was used in the shootings.

The police chief said Miller is a Marine veteran. At this time, no other charges are being filed. Miller was taken into custody and transported to the Osceola County Jail in Baxter's handcuffs.

"We don't get to stop for a minute and cry for somebody that we lost or mourn for a hero. ... The men and women of law enforcement are required to continue working and bring this individual to justice," O'Dell said.

Through SunTrust Bank, an account has been setup by the city for those who want to donate to the families of Howard and Baxter, according to the police department.

The account will be titled City of Kissimmee – Officer Matthew Baxter and Sergeant Sam Howard.

People can start making donations to any SunTrust Bank starting Monday, Aug. 21. 

An outpouring of support came through Twitter during the overnight.

O'Dell said he has not received a phone call from the White House, but he thanked fellow law enforcement officers from various agencies who came out and helped with the shooting.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina tweeted his thoughts and prayers minutes before we confirmed what happened:

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs asked Floridians to keep the officers' families in their thoughts.

U.S. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio stated that there needs to be focus on people targeting police officers across the country.

At Osceola Medical Regional Center, law enforcement officers showed their love and support by driving their patrol vehicles in a processional in front of the hospital on Friday night.

On the police department's Facebook page, Beth Hoffman offered her condolences.

"My heart is breaking for your department and the families of Officer Baxter and Officer Howard. I'm so sorry we live in this kind of world right now and I'm so so grateful that you continue to do go work even in this dark hour. God bless you all and keep you safe," she wrote.  

The Kissimmee shooting brought back memories of the manhunt for Markeith Loyd, who was accused of shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December of 2016. Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton happened upon Loyd in January of this year, where they exchanged gun fire and Loyd shot and killed her, according to law enforcement officials. 

Orange County Sheriff's Deputy 1st Class Norman Lewis was killed in the manhunt for Loyd when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle. 

Nine days later, Loyd was caught.

Attorney General Pam Bondi offered words of comfort to the Kissimmee Police Department, as well as the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, which saw two deputies shot on Friday night as well. She said the shooting of law enforcement will not be allowed.

"This horrific violence against law enforcement will not be tolerated, and as Attorney General I will continue to ensure those who commit violence against our law enforcement officers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," she stated in a press release.  

Jacksonville officers shot

The Jacksonville officers were shot in the Westside, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

"If you are inclined to do so, say a prayer for our two #JSO officers that have been shot," the Sheriff's Office said on Twitter.

One officer is in critical condition, and the other is stable. One officer was shot in both hands, and the other was shot in the stomach, the Sheriff's Office said. Both were struck by high-powered rifle rounds, the agency said.

The suspect shot by the officers died at a hospital.

O'Dell was asked to comment on the Jacksonville shootings and he said that everyone needs to come together and the community and law enforcement needs to work together to get criminals off the streets.