A Florida cop was shot dead and another was critically wounded while four other police officers around the country were struck by gunfire within two hours Friday night.
Officer Matthew Baxter, a three-year veteran with the Kissimmee police department, was killed during a routine check, while Sgt. Sam Howard remains in grave critical condition at the Osceola Regional Medical Center, according to Police Chief Jeff O’Dell.
Baxter and Howard responded to reports of a suspicious person near Palmway and Cypress Streets at 9:27 p.m., O’Dell said.
Within approximately five minutes, Kissimmee police received calls that Baxter and Howard were shot, according to O’Dell.
“It looked like they were surprised,” Odell said. The police chief added the officers were wearing their uniforms and did not return fire.
Three suspects are in custody and a fourth is being sought.
Within four hours of the shooting, President Trump, who ran a campaign emphasizing law and order, tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the @KissimmeePolice and their loved ones. We are with you!”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement saying he was “hearbroken”, adding, “Our law enforcement officers are true heroes and we will miss these brave Floridians.”
Baxter, who is married to another officer in the department, has three children, according to O’Dell.
Howard is a 10-year veteran with the Kissimmee police department who was promoted just weeks ago.
About 160 miles away in Jacksonville, another two police officers were shot around 11 p.m. Friday, according to the sheriff’s office. One officer is reportedly in critical condition while the other is stable.
Police responded to an attempted suicide call on the 5100 block of Seaboard Avenue. One suspect was armed with a rifle, while three others inside the house took refuge in a bedroom, the sheriff’s office said during a press conference early Saturday.
When the officers tried to enter the home, the suspect opened fire and shot at the cops through the door, a spokesperson said.
The suspect eventually exited the house, “advanced” on the police and exchanged gunfire, a spokesperson said. The suspect later died in the hospital.
One Jacksonville officer was shot in the stomach, while another suffered gunshot wounds to both hands.
The three victims who were hiding inside the home were unharmed.
In Fayette County, P.A, two state troopers were also shot at a supermarket around 9 p.m.
One suspect is dead, and the two troopers were taken to the hospital in stable condition, WPXI reported.