Saturday 21 April 2018

'We are with you' - Donald Trump pays tribute as four police officers shot in Florida

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Hagerstown
President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Hagerstown

Independent.ie newsdesk

A police officer has been shot dead and another gravely injured by gunfire in Florida while another two officers were shot elsewhere in the US state.

Three suspects were in custody and a fourth was being sought after the fatal incident in the central city of Kissimmee.

Elsewhere in Florida, two police officers were shot and injured when responding to shots fired in Jacksonville.

Kissimmee police officers Sam Howard and Matthew Baxter were checking people in an area of the city known for drug activity when they were shot, local Police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

The officers did not have an opportunity to return fire.

"They were surprised," Mr O'Dell said. Asked whether they were ambushed, he said: "It's too early to tell, but it's leading that way."

Mr Baxter, who had been with the department three years, died later in hospital.

Mr Howard, a 10-year veteran, was in a serious condition, Mr O'Dell said.

The officers, both of whom had families, were checking three suspects when a fourth opened fire.

Three of the suspects were arrested and officers were searching for a fourth.

Broadcaster WFTV showed aerial footage of police cars with lights flashing swarmed at a housing complex as the search continued in Kissimmee, a city just south of the theme park hub of Orlando.

In the northern Florida city of Jacksonville, two police officers were shot and wounded while responding to reports of a gunman in an apartment, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott sent tweets about the four officers, saying: "We stand with ALL law enforcement in Florida".

"It's a tough time for law enforcement," Mr O'Dell said of the two incidents. "It's getting tough to do the job."

President Donald Trump tweeted: "My thoughts and prayers are with the @KissimmeePolice and their loved ones. We are with you!"

In Jacksonville, one officer was shot in both hands and the other in the stomach. The gunman was shot and killed when police returned fire.

Police responded to reports of an attempted suicide at a home where three other people were thought to be in danger, Sheriff's Office Director Mike Bruno said.

A team of officers heard gunshots inside and feared "an active shooter situation" so they approached the house, he said.

The suspect came out firing a high-powered rifle. The three other people in the house were safe after the incident, Mr Bruno said.

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