In the span of just a few hours, six American police officers were shot in separate incidents in three different cities in Florida and Pennsylvania.
Two officers were shot in each of the three locations.
One of the officers, in Kissimmee, Florida, has died from his wounds in what the police chief says may have been an ambush. He was identified as Officer Matthew Baxter, a 3-year police veteran who is a father of three. A second officer, Sgt. Sam Howard, was now described by the police chief as being in very, very grave condition after earlier reports that both officers had died.
Kissimmee Police Chief O’Dell said in a news conference, “These are beloved fathers and husbands and sons. So we are doing everything we can to support the families.”
The two officers shot in Pennsylvania are in stable condition. The officers shot in Jacksonville, Florida, are in critical and stable condition. They were shot with a high-powered rifle, according to police.
The names of the suspects and other officers were not yet released. Two of the suspects are dead.
President Donald Trump tweeted on the Kissimmee police shooting.
Here’s a rundown of what happened in each city:
The shooting in Kissimmee, Florida left officer Baxter dead and Sgt. Howard gravely injured and occurred in the area of Cypress and Palm Street around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, August 18, according to ABC Action News. Two suspects were in custody and one was still being sought.
“It breaks my heart to have to come to speak to you tonight about another senseless tragedy, one that has resulted in the death of one of our police officers and the grave, critical situation of another,” the police chief said in the news conference. “This evening, Sgt. Sam Howard, a 10-year veteran of the Kissimmee police department and officer Matthew Baxter, a three-year veteran of the Kissimmee police department checked out suspicious persons…in the city.”
The chief said the officers were surprised and didn’t get a round off.
A few minutes later, police received the first 911 call that the officers were shot. Responding officers found “two of their fallen brothers gravely injured on the roadway,” the chief said.
“Heartbreaking loss of two of Kissimee’s finest officers,” Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs tweeted. “Please join in prayers for families, friends and law enforcement.”
On Friday evening August 18, the Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff’s Department tweeted, “Two police officers shot: Westside of #Jacksonville.” Police said in a news briefing that the officers were shot with a high-powered rifle through a door when they arrived at the scene. “1 officer shot in both hands, 2nd officer shot in the stomach. ‘They stared danger in the face,’” journalist Meagan Harris reported of the police comments at the briefing.
According to the JSO briefing, officers were dispatched to an attempted suicide call where there were “three additional victims inside the house that had retreated to a back bedroom for their safety. While the officers were en route, the suspect armed himself with a high-powered rifle.” The officers, who were in a group of four-five, could hear gunfire coming from the house. They formed a contact team. They thought it was an active shooter situation inside the house, so they approached the house, the media spokesperson for police said.
As they approached the house and attempted to enter one of the doorways, “the suspect began shooting through the door at the officers.” There was an exchange of gunfire. During that exchange of gunfire, two officers were struck by bullets, as was the suspect. One officer was struck in both hands, and the other officer was shot in his stomach with the rifle fire, said authorities.
“He engaged the officers before they made entry into the house,” police said of the suspect. The house is set back from the roadway quite a bit.
The three people inside the house who weren’t the suspect were not injured.
One officer was later listed as being in critical condition, one was in stable condition, and the suspect was dead. “We thought we had an active shooter type situation,” the media spokesperson explained.
“We often talk about the inherent dangers of police work, but tonight those dangers were all too real for these police officers. As they were approaching the house, they knew they were staring danger in the face, and yet they moved forward to meet their commitment that they swore to take to this community,” he said.
You can watch the police briefing here:
The department requested prayers for the officers.
According to CBS Local, two state troopers were shot in Fairchance, Pennsylvania at around 8 p.m. on the evening of Friday, August 18.
Uniontown State Police told the television that “a situation” unfolded at a Shop ‘n Save as the officers tried to serve a warrant. In this case, reports CBS local, the suspect is dead. One trooper was shot in the stomach and the other in the hand; one was in surgery, reported the television station.
The officers were described as being alert and in stable condition.
This article will be updated as more information is released.