Funeral service held for slain Kissimmee police officers

Sgt. Sam Howard, Officer Matthew Baxter shot, killed in line of duty


KISSIMMEE, Fla.UPDATE: Click here to read a recap of the joint funeral service.

The law enforcement community, family and friends will pay their respects Thursday to two Kissimmee police officers who were shot and killed in the line of duty.

Funeral services for Sgt. Richard "Sam" Howard, 35, and Officer Matthew Baxter, 26, will begin at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Orlando at 3000 S. John Young Parkway.

Howard was a 10-year veteran with the department, had a teenage daughter and was married. Baxter had been with the department for three years and was married to a fellow Kissimmee police officer with four young children.

Baxter and Howard were fatally shot on Friday night near Palmway and Cypress streets in Kissimmee in an area known for drug activity. Baxter was pronounced dead Friday night and Howard died on Saturday afternoon at Osceola Regional Medical Center.

Lynx will provide transportation via their FastLink441 service from Kissimmee Intermodal Station to First Baptist in Orlando for the memorial services.

News 6 will have full coverage of the services starting on Thursday morning.

For those not able to attend the funeral, there will be several other events held this week to honor the fallen officers.

Wednesday night, downtown Kissimmee businesses are hosting a Back the Blue night market. It's a farmers market-style event, but at night, where more than 20 vendors will sell items with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the slain officers' families.

That event will be held on Dakin Avenue and Broadway Street from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday.

"As a small town, having been so close to us hearing something like that happen, of course it hurts," said Breeze Whiskey Lounge owner Nadine Rodriguez. "I believe it's going to be really good just to see how many people support not only just the officer that passed away, but in general, as a town and as a community."

Then on Thursday night, there will be a candlelight vigil held at the same intersection. It is scheduled from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The owner of the 3 Sisters Speakeasy said the mayor and KPD Chief Jeff O'Dell will be in attendance.

Friday, the downtown Kissimmee businesses will hold another fundraiser on the same block. Again from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., there will be vendors, raffles, music and more. All the proceeds will go to the fallen officers' families.

The city of Kissimmee has set up a Suntrust account for anyone wanting to donate to the Baxter and Howard families. The account is under the name "City of Kissimmee - Officer Matthew Baxter and Sergeant Sam Howard."