Two Florida cops were shot, killed in ambush by ex-Marine who could face death penalty

By JESSICA FINN

A second police office has died Saturday, a day after his colleague was killed when a scuffle with a former Marine turned deadly Friday night in Florida.

Former marine, Everett Miller, 45, was arrested Friday night at a local bar in connection to the shooting deaths of the two Kissimmee police officers. Officer Matthew Baxter, 27, died Friday a short time after he was shot.

Sgt Sam Howard, 36, was fighting for his life Saturday, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries Saturday afternoon.

Kissimmee Police Officer Matthew Baxter   Sgt. Sam Howard, who remains in critical condition at a hospital, may not survive his injuries

The officers got into an altercation with Miller as they were on patrol in Kissimmee, in an area with a history of drug activity, according to authorities.

Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said Saturday that Everett Miller was arrested several hours after the shootings late on Friday.

Everett Miller, 45, was arrested  after he allegedly shot and killed one officer and wounded another on Friday night in Kissimmee, FloridaDuring a patrol of the area south of Orlando’s theme park hub, Baxter and Howard got into a scuffle with Miller, who shot them, the police chief said.

The officers did not have an opportunity to return fire.

Miller faces a charge of first-degree murder for killing Baxter, additional charges are expected in Howard’s death.

Florida Governor Rick Scott flexed his executive power on Saturday by removing state attorney Aramis Ayala of the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida, from the case.

Ayala has previously refused to consider the death penalty in other first-degree murder cases.

Scott said Saturday: ‘I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.’

Ayala is in litigation with the governor as he’s reassigned 24 of her first-degree murder cases.

Police Chief Jeff O'Dell suggested that the two officers were ambushed and did not return fire. Pictured: Two officers stand guard outside the Osceola Regional Medical Center in Kissimmee where Officer Howard died on Saturday afternoon 

In March, Ayala said she would not seek the death penalty in a high profile case of Markeith Loyd, who was accused of shooting and killing an officer, as well as his pregnant girlfriend in Orlando, according to CNN.

Miller was recently involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. He also made threats to law enforcement officials on Facebook, police 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, his sergeant, responded as backup but the officers didn’t have an opportunity to return fire, the police chief said.

The officers were not 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, Chief O’Dell said. They found a handgun and revolver on him.

The police chief said Miller was 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.

Fellow Kissimmee officer Sam Howard (pictured) died Saturday afternoon   Officer Sam Howard

Two other officers were shot Friday night in nearby Jacksonville

Baxter had been with the Kissimmee Police Department for three years. He was married to another Kissimmee police officer and they have four children.

Howard 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.’

 President Donald Trump was quick to comment on the shooting, tweeting that his thoughts and prayers were with ‘Kissimmee Police and their loved ones’. 

‘We are with you!’ he added, including the hashtag #LESM.

Florida Governor Rick Scott also tweeted that he was ‘heartbroken’ to hear of the officer’s death.

‘Tonight we lost a brave officer – Matthew Baxter. Husband/father/hero. Praying for @kissimmeepolice,’ he wrote in another tweet.

President Donald Trump was quick to comment on the Kissimmee shooting on Friday night 

Florida Governor Rick Scott also tweeted that he was 'heartbroken' to hear of Baxter's death and said he was 'praying' for the other Florida cops who had been hospitalized 

Separately, another two officers were injured late on 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.

Officers had approached the scene and gunfire could be heard inside the home. The officers then entered the residence.

According to authorities, the suspect was armed with a high powered rifle. The suspect shot through the home’s front door toward the officers.

In a third shooting, two Pennsylvania State Troopers are stable and expected to survive. The officers were shot Friday night in Fairchance about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.

It was revealed that the suspect is deceased, Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman Melinda Bondarenka told the site.

Bondarenka said one of the troopers was flown from the scene to Morgantown Hospital and the other transported by ambulance to Uniontown Hospital.

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