President Donald Trump offered his solidarity and pledged his support early Saturday morning to the Kissimmee Police Department in Florida after one officer was killed and another gravely wounded in a shooting Friday night.
Officers Matthew Baxter and Sam Howard responded to a call and were monitoring three suspects for drug activity when a fourth opened fire on the officers, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said during a press conference. Both officers were shot before they could return fire in what may have been an orchestrated ambush. Baxter died after being taken to a hospital, and Howard remains in critical condition.
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“My thoughts and prayers are with the @KissimmeePolice and their loved ones. We are with you!” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning.
Baxter served for three years with the Kissimmee department, and Howard served 10 years. Both men were husbands and fathers, and Baxter’s wife is also a Kissimmee officer.
“Right now, as you can imagine, [the families] are completely heartbroken and devastated,” O’Dell said.
Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez said in a statement that “the entire city of Kissimmee is in mourning. We pray for all law enforcement who are out there, protecting our community.”
When reporters asked O’Dell if Baxter and Howard were ambushed Friday night, the police chief replied, “It’s too early to tell, but it’s leading that way.”
“This is a tough time in law enforcement,” O’Dell said. “I would ask that you pray for the men and women of law enforcement.”
Unconnected shootings also took place in two other U.S. cities on Friday in addition to the Kissimmee tragedy. When police responded to reports of an “active shooter situation” where an attempted suicide took place in a house in Jacksonville, Florida, the suspect opened fire through the doorway and critically injured two officers, according to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Bruno. The suspect was shot and killed during the exchange.
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Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) tweeted late Friday, “Our law enforcement officers are true heroes and we will miss these brave Floridians.”
After learning of the Jacksonville shooting, Scott issued a second tweet, saying, “Just learned of two [Jacksonville officers] in danger tonight – we stand with ALL law enforcement in Florida.”
The third shooting took place in Fairchance, Pennsylvania, at a Shop ‘n Save store and left two officers injured, according to Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Melinda Bondarenka. The suspect died following the exchange of gunfire, and both officers are expected to survive their injuries.
“We are deeply saddened by the shootings that occurred in our community, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families,” Mark Burnworth Jr., Fairchance Shop ‘n Save’s assistant store manager, said in a statement, according to CBS Pittsburgh. “We will continue to support the police department in their ongoing investigation. Providing a safe environment for our employees and guests is our number-one concern.”
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Oxyman, Wikipedia)