A Kissimmee, Fla., officer spent his Saturday afternoon scrubbing the blood of his fallen colleagues off the pavement of Palmway Street.
“I just don’t want to see this every time I drive by,” Sgt. Matt Koski said as he splashed soapy water onto the road.
The night before, Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter were shot to death during a routine stop. A 45-year-old Marine veteran, Everette Glenn Miller, allegedly opened fire on the officers about 9:30 p.m. They didn’t have a chance to fire back.
“It looked like they were surprised,” said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell.
Baxter reportedly stopped Miller minutes earlier in a group of three people he deemed “suspicious,” O’Dell said. Howard was in the area and decided to help as backup.
Investigators are still working to understand exactly what happened in the moments before the shooting, but O’Dell said a “scuffle” may have broken out.
Baxter died Friday night shortly after the shooting. Howard died Saturday afternoon.
Miller fled to a bar, where Osceola County sheriff’s detectives found him about 11:30 p.m. When the officers approached him, Miller reached for his waistband — but a deputy tackled him to the ground and arrested him, O’Dell said.
“Extremely brave and heroic actions by the deputy, there were other people in the vicinity,” O’Dell said. “They went hands-on, tackled him to the ground and secured him [and] located a 9mm and .22 revolver on his person.”
When officers took Miller to the Osceola County Jail Saturday, they put Baxter’s handcuffs on his wrists, O’Dell said.
The sheriff’s office recently took Miller into custody under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows involuntary commitment of people in mental health crises. Miller, who has no criminal record in Florida, was enlisted in the Marines from 1989 to 2010, according to military records.
People flocked to Kissimmee Police headquarters Saturday, bringing food and shaking the hands of officers to express their condolences.