Vigil for fallen Kissimmee police officers

- Kissimmee police huddled Sunday on the spot where their fellow officers were attacked.

The officers had just participated in a vigil hosted by The Hope Mission Church, which sits on the corner near the crime scene on Palmway Street, where Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Sam Howard were shot and killed Friday.
 
Many returned for the first time.

“I didn’t make any one of them come out. They came on their own, so that tells you how much they needed this,” said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell, who said it’s been 30 years since the department had an officer killed in the line of duty.
 
In song and in prayer, the people who attended emotionally embraced the officers. 

When a speaker encouraged attendees to reach out to officers, cops and community members held hands and put their arms round each other.

“It’s what the officers needed to see and realize the community does love them and support them,” said O’Dell. “When I look into our officers eyes, there’s some question marks.”

Mayor Jose Alvarez called for more cooperation between the community and cops, and asked for help making the troubled neighborhood a better place. 

“Our KPD can’t do it by themselves," he said. "We need you. We need your guidance."

Police say Baxter and Howard responded to the corner of Palmway Street and Cypress Street after getting a call about suspicious activity.

The area is a known for drug activity. 
 
“I believe this is going to bring change to the community, positive change,” said resident David Lugo.

People continue to visit  police headquarters where grateful residents have been leaving flowers, candles, balloons and handwritten notes for the officers and their families.

O’Dell said members of the Baxter and Howard families have visited. 

“Obviously it helps in the healing process to understand that their loved one was loved by the community and truly supported by the community,” he said.

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