One officer was killed and three others were injured in two separate Florida shootings Friday night, outbreaks of violence against police that reverberated across the nation.
The first shooting incident left one officer dead and another “gravely” injured in Kissimmee, Fla., just south of Orlando. Officers were responding to a report of suspicious activity in a high-crime area when they were taken by surprise, officials said.
The second shooting, about 90 minutes later in Jacksonville, left two officers injured. Police were dispatched to deal with an armed suicidal man when he came out firing.
All the shootings were “deflating to law enforcement and heartbreaking,” Kissimmee Chief Jeff O’Dell told reporters, shortly after he announced that Officer Matthew Baxter had died of his injuries.
About 9:30 p.m. Friday, Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard were on patrol in a neighborhood in the north part of the city where police were trying to crack down on heightened drug activity. The officers were searching several suspects when they got into a scuffle with one, who opened fire, O’Dell said at the news conference.
The officers didn’t have time to return fire, O’Dell said. “It looked like they were surprised by the gunfire.”
Howard remained in grave condition at a hospital near the shooting, O’Dell said, and there was “not much hope that he will survive this.”
Officer Matthew Baxter succumbed to his injuries. Officer Sam Howard is in very grave condition. pic.twitter.com/oXypORJaIn
— Kissimmee Police (@kissimmeepolice) August 19, 2017
Police began searching for the shooter and announced Saturday morning that they’d arrested Everett Miller, who is charged with murder.
As investigators learned more about Miller, O’Dell said he was disheartened to learn that the suspect had posted violent anti-police comments on social media and that no one had reported it to authorities. O’Dell didn’t detail the comments.
Nearly two hours later and 165 miles north, police officers in Jacksonville were summoned to a home on the city’s west side to defuse a situation involving a suicidal man armed with a gun, according to the Florida Times-Union. There was an extra element of danger: Dispatchers told the officers three other people were inside the home with the armed man.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Cleve R. Wootson Jr.