KISSIMMEE, Fla. - State and national leaders expressed their condolences to the Kissimmee Police Department following a shooting Friday night that left two officers dead.
Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said during a press conference that Officer Matthew Baxter, 27, was fatally shot while responding to a call in an area that the department said was known for drug activity. Sgt. Sam Howard, 36, had responded as backup and was left in "critical grave condition" after having also been shot until Saturday afternoon, when he also died as a result of his injuries, O'Dell said.
State and local leaders tweeted Saturday after learning that the second Kissimmee officer had passed after Friday's shooting.
Our grieving hearts become even heavier with the terrible news of Sgt. Sam Howard's passing. (1/2) — Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) August 19, 2017
Keep the Howard and Baxter Families in our thoughts&prayers & not forget the sacrifices these men made during their careers @kissimmeepolice pic.twitter.com/yDKXFisEZO — Osceola Sheriff (@OsceolaSheriff) August 19, 2017
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tweeted their support to the department after the shooting.
.@POTUS & I stand w/ the men & women of law enforcement without apology & always will. They are heroes & our prayers are w/ @kissimmeepolice https://t.co/9QhhLKkA5G — Vice President Pence (@VP) August 19, 2017
Leaders across Florida, including Gov. Rick Scott, also expressed their condolences via Twitter after learning that the officers had been shot.
UPDATE: Heartbroken to hear loss of @kissimmeepolice officer Matthew Baxter. Praying for a quick recovery for officer in critical condition. https://t.co/BYhUFOe1CJ — Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) August 19, 2017
Our prayers are w/ @kissimmeepolice officers, friends & families. Our hearts are heavy w/ this incredible loss.
— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) August 19,
UPDATE: We honor and remember Kissimmee Police Officer Matthew Baxter, who lost his life in the line of duty last night. (1/3)
— Mayor Teresa Jacobs (@Mayor_Jacobs) August 19, 2017
We continue to pray for Kissimmee Police Sgt. Sam Howard, who remains in grave condition this morning. (1/2) — Mayor Teresa Jacobs (@Mayor_Jacobs) August 19, 2017
As we continue to mourn this devastating loss, we must do everything possible to support their families and honor their legacies. (1/3) — Mayor Teresa Jacobs (@Mayor_Jacobs) August 19, 2017
Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a statement Saturday and said she had spoken to O'Dell about the officers Friday night after she learned of the shooting.
“We ask everyone to continue praying for the families of the Kissimmee officers as well as Officers Michael Fox and Kevin Jarrell of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office who were also shot in the line of duty last night," Bondi said.
"This horrific violence against law enforcement will not be tolerated, and as Attorney General I will continue to ensure those who commit violence against our law enforcement officers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Scott also issued a statement Saturday morning in response to the shooting.
“Let me be very clear – last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state. Florida has zero tolerance for violence and we will not accept hatred for one second. In Florida, justice is swiftly served against anyone who attacks our law enforcement officers," Scott said.
“Today, I join every Floridian to honor these law enforcement officers, their brothers and sisters in uniform, and their families. My heart breaks for Matthew’s family. May Matthew’s service and the service of our law enforcement community be a constant reminder of the sacrifice of those who serve to keep us safe. Following last night’s shootings I have been in touch with local law enforcement and community officials to let them know that our state supports them every step of the way.”
Scott also credited law enforcement officers for Florida's crime rate being at a 46-year low.
Flags were lowered Saturday morning outside the Police Department.
Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.
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