The incident in the central city of Kissimmee may have been an ambush while responding to a call, Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said.
Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard were responding to a suspicious activity call just before 9:30 pm Friday in Kissimmee. Within minutes, gunfire erupted, surprising the officers, who were not able to return fire, O’Dell said.
“Officers immediately responded to the area and found two of their fallen brothers gravely injured on the road way,” O’Dell said.
Baxter, a three-year-veteran of the Kissimmee Police Department, was pronounced dead. Howard died at the hospital.
3 arrested; one sought
Police arrested three people following the shooting, and are searching for a fourth person.
“At this time, we have a strong suspect in custody that we are interviewing,” O’Dell said.
Following the news of the shooting, President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the @KissimmeePolice and their loved ones. We are with you!” the President said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott described Baxter as a husband, a father and a hero.
“Heartbroken to hear loss of @kissimmeepolice officer Matthew Baxter. Praying for a quick recovery for officer in critical condition,” Scott tweeted.
Kissimmee is about 20 miles south of Orlando.
Other officer-involved shootings
Two officers in Jacksonville, Florida, were also injured Friday. When officers arrived to an attempted suicide call, they encountered a man armed with a high-powered rifle and exchanged gunfire, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Bruno said.
During the shooting, one officer was struck in both of his hands while the other was hit in his stomach, Bruno said. The suspect, who was also injured, died after he was taken to a local hospital, he added.
Two state troopers were shot in Pennsylvania late Friday night, said Melinda Bondarenka, a spokeswoman with the Pennsylvania State Police.
Their condition is unknown as of Saturday morning.