Everett Glenn Miller, a former Marine with a mental health history, was named as the suspect accused of shooting and killing two Kissimmee, Florida police officers, Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard. The police chief says it appears to have been an “ambush.”
Kissimmee police announced that Miller, 45, would be taken to jail in Officer Baxter’s handcuffs, as the second Kissimmee police officer succumbed to his wounds on August 19, the day after the double shooting.
On Facebook, Miller went by the name Malik Mohammad Ali, a change he had made only recently, a man who served in the Marines with him, and who spoke to him in recent weeks, told Heavy in a telephone interview. That man, Darren Hightower, a retired Army soldier and former Marine from Georgia, looked at the recent booking photo and an old mugshot of Everett Glenn Miller and told Heavy they are the same man as Ali, whose Facebook page is filled with recent anger over racism in the United States, slavery, and posts about Charlottesville. Hightower expressed great shock to Heavy that the man he knew could have ended up this way, calling him a “a true motivator, happy go lucky guy, willing to go that extra mile to help his friends. I don’t understand it.”
The page shared a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. earlier in the day on August 18 with writing on it that said, “When I said march I didn’t mean forever muthaf*ckas. Shoot back!” Ali wrote with the photo, “When them (N word racial slur) wake up. Its (sic) going to be some hell to answer for. You only can poke a tie up dog for so long. Once that chain breaks its over. Wake up America before its too late.” Another post said “racist as* America. America is evil.” Only hours before the shooting, the page shared a post about white supremacists infiltrating police departments. There were also derogatory posts about Donald Trump and posts about the Confederate monument issue and Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia. On August 15, the page shared a video of the Charlottesville clashes, writing, “Confederate Nazis…i will hurt you all. You are the enemy. You can run but you cant hide.”
Hightower said that Miller served in Afghanistan and worked in military security. You can read more about the Facebook page below. Ali’s cousin, who posted a tribute to the slain officers and about PTSD earlier in the day, told Heavy the family is not certain yet whether he is the shooter and didn’t want to comment. The Orlando Sentinel also reported that a “Facebook page believed to be Miller’s is filled with posts expressing anger over racism, slavery and the KKK,” describing in detail the King Jr. post on the Ali page.
August 18 was a very bloody night for American law enforcement. In the span of less than two hours, six American police officers were shot in separate incidents in three different cities in Florida and Pennsylvania. In addition to Kissimmee, officers were shot in Jacksonville, Florida and Fairchance, Pennsylvania.
Two officers were shot in each of the three locations in incidents that started between 9 p.m. and 10:50 p.m. on the east coast.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Police Chief Says the Officers Were Ambushed & Miller, a Former Marine, Allegedly Had Two Weapons on Him When Arrested
The Kissimmee police chief said in a news conference that he believed the officers walked into an “ambush,” saying they were caught so by surprise that they never got a round off in self defense. Miller has past addresses in Tampa, Riverview and Dover,” according to WTSP.
Police said Baxter, 27, and Howard, who came later as backup, “came to Palmway and Cypress streets, an area known for drug activity, and encountered three people, one of them being Miller,” WFTV reported.
“(There) may have been some type of a scuffle ensued, ultimately ending in the shooting, taking Officer Baxter’s life,” the police chief said in a briefing.
The suspect is accused of trying to draw on officers again later when they arrested him at Roscoe’s Bar.
“A couple hours after the shooting, police located Miller and when they confronted him, they say he reached for his waistband. That’s when the officer tackled him and took him into custody. Miller reportedly had two weapons on him,” reported WTSP-TV, which added that Miller is a former Marine.
The shooting in Kissimmee, Florida occurred in the area of Cypress and Palm Street around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, August 18, according to ABC Action News.
A few minutes later, police received the first 911 call that the officers were shot. Responding officers found “two of their fallen brothers gravely injured on the roadway,” the chief said.
2. Baxter Was Married to Another Officer & Howard Was an Army Vet With a Wife & Child
Officer Baxter is a 3-year police veteran who is a father of four and who is married to another officer on the force. Sgt. Howard left behind one child, according to The Orlando Sentinel. He was 36-years-old.
There are GoFundMe pages to help the families of both slain officers. The page for Howard reads, “He served in the Army for many years and was a dedicated Officer with the Kissimmee Police Department. He loved to work on cars, go to car shows, loved his job by trying to make his community a safer place.” The page is raising money to help Howard’s daughter and wife, Billie Jo. It shared this photo:
The GoFundMe page to help Baxter’s family reads, “His love for his community and country spread into all areas of his life. Matthew was a loving husband, father, brother, and son. He was an active member of his community, dedicating his free time to volunteering with organizations such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Operation Chill, and YMCA’s Get Your Game On. He is survived by his wife Sadia, who is a detective, also with Kissimmee Police Department, and four daughters, ranging in age from 7 years to 7 months. Proceeds will go directly to his young widow.” The page shared this photo:
Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell said in a news conference, “These are beloved fathers and husbands and sons. So we are doing everything we can to support the families.” Police shared the photo of Officer Baxter at the top of this fact in June with the caption, “Officer Baxter connects with a local family. Conversations and Slurpee Coupons. All about positive interactions. #OperationChill.”
The second officer, Sgt. Howard, was initially reported to have died but was later described by the police chief as being in very grave condition. Tragically, the police chief said on August 19 that there doesn’t appear to be much hope for Howard, and later in the day police reported that he, too, had died.
Howard is a 10-year veteran of the force. “The City of Kissimmee has set up an account with SunTrust Bank for individuals interested in donating to Howard and Baxter’s families. Donors can go to any SunTrust Bank location beginning Monday to contribute,” according to The Orlando Sentinel.
3. Miller, Who Had a Recent Mental Health Commitment, Was Accused of Being a Lone Gunman
Mike DeForest, of News 5, reported that Miller was recently committed on a mental health evaluation. “Miller is a Marine veteran who was recently placed under the Baker Act by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office,” reported WFTV. That act allows for involuntary commitments of the mentally ill.
Miller served in the Marines from 1989 to 2010, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Three people were questioned but police now say only charges against Miller are expected.
“It breaks my heart to have to come to speak to you tonight about another senseless tragedy, one that has resulted in the death of one of our police officers and the grave, critical situation of another,” the police chief said in the news conference. He said the officers were responding to a report of “suspicious persons.”
4. The Facebook Page Attributed to Miller by the Long-Time Friend Is Filled With Anger About Racism, Charlottesville & Slavery
Hightower said that he served with Miller in the Marines when they were in their 20s and had stayed in touch with him throughout the years, communicating with him a couple weeks ago after becoming concerned about a Facebook exchange after people complained about his friend’s hygiene. He said Miller only started calling himself Malik Mohammad Ali a few weeks or maybe a month ago and he wasn’t sure why. He said he was from a good family.
Other friends who had written on Ali’s Facebook page previously expressed shock on August 19 after news broke. “Damn Glen WTF?” wrote one. “I can’t believe this?” wrote another.
Posts on the page showed extreme anger about slavery and a focus on race issues. A post made just a couple hours before the shooting read, “LGBT has more rights than me as a black man. Obama said ita better to be gay than black..” and then used a racial slur for Obama. That post shared a meme that criticized the WNBA for fining players for supporting Black Lives Matter. The page shared a quote and photo of Malcolm X on August 18, writing, “Yall (N word racial slur) better wake up…mind control is real.” In addition, the page shared pictures of houses and a caption that read, “I Found My Castle..all guards have desserted (sic). I have to reinforce my castle. Send gold & iron.”
The page made an apparent reference to the controversy over Confederate monuments:
Another recent post said: “Forever 21…Racist a*s America. America is Evil. And I am a Proud American. They can sell racism. I am a racist. We are all racist. However, Im a human and I dont race with anyone.” The page also focuses on racism in Charlottesville, Virginia; corporate greed; compares professional sports teams to slavery; and mentions Donald Trump. One post read, “F*ck the KKK..they hide. The KKK is nothing. They hide behind coward azz hoods. They know they will get fucked up. B*tch azz crackers..trump boys..”
The morning of August 18, the page shared a video with the caption from the person who initially posted it saying, “Black Panther leader Fred Hampton – assassinated by Chicago police on this day in 1969 – explains how the ruling class uses racism to exploit working people.” The page also has a post that reads, “White parents taught you to hate my skin color. Thats why..i always say white ppl hate. My parents told me to be scared of white ppl. Why..cause why ppl kill.”
The page also shared a post that argued that white supremacists have infiltrated police departments. Heavy has blurred out part of the expletive and racial slur.
“Look at the Donald Duck..this is photoshopped. Our President said he was going to #MakeAmerikkkaMoorAgain,” read a post on a video purporting to show Donald Trump standing with KKK members.
After being shown the current booking photo of Everett Glenn Miller, the accused Kissimmee shooter, Hightower said there is zero doubt in his mind that this is the man who posted as Ali on Facebook but whose name he also knew to be Everett Glenn Miller of the same age. Ali also listed the name “Glenn Miller” under Malik Mohammad Ali and the URL contains a slight variation of the name Everett Miller; Hightower said he knew his first name was Everett from their time in the Marines, but that more commonly Miller was called “Glenn.” Hightower said he tries to avoid getting involved in political controversies so he didn’t pay much attention to the posts.
“It’s shocking,” he told Heavy. “I don’t know how it could go this far.”
Asked about all of this as well as the PTSD issue she had written about on Facebook earlier in the day, a cousin of the man with the Ali page told Heavy, “Glenn is my cousin. We grew up like siblings. He joined the military because of my encouragement to get away from the chaos in the neighborhood. We don’t know if he is the shooter or not so the family doesn’t have a statement at this time. And yes he is very ill!!” Sent the booking photo of the shooter for confirmation, she responded, “I will respectfully end this communication. Our family is dealing with the lost (sic) of these wonderful officers.”
Hightower said, “We were stationed together in the Marine Corps. He retired a couple of years ago as a master gunnery sergeant. We were that close and I still consider us to be close, you know.”
The police chief confirmed that Everett Glenn Miller, the accused shooter, was in the Marines. The Facebook page of Malik Mohammad Ali is filled with photos of him in a Marine uniform and a Marine ID. It says that he is self-employed and from Orlando, but from Kissimmee. Hightower said he would go back and forth between Orlando and Kissimmee. “I haven’t seen nothing ill or nothing bad come from this guy,” he said, adding that he didn’t recall his friend saying anything bad about police, noting he had served in military security.
The Ali page also wrote, “Im the Black Sheep…i dont follow any religion. I dont believe in jesus ..im not a muslim either. I am a spritual being. So all religions are bullsh*t. Made up by man. Black Isrelites (sic)..the new kids on the block …Its a Religion..its made up by white man. I am the original man. My ancestors can be traced back before 1969 when the black Isrelites came on the scene. The belive (sic) that Jesus is coming from heaven with 50 million n*gger angels to kill everyone who isnt a black Isrelites. GTFO.. Thats some real sleep ni$$@. The dont claim to be from Africa. These ni$$@ are really crazy.”
Local officials, President Donald Trump, and those who knew the officers expressed grief on social media about the shooting.
“Heartbreaking loss of two of Kissimee’s finest officers,” Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs tweeted. “Please join in prayers for families, friends and law enforcement.”
President Donald Trump tweeted on the Kissimmee police shooting.
Wrote one woman of Officer Baxter on Facebook, “RIP Kissimmee Officer Matthew Baxter. My family knew him and we are heart broken. We are praying for the family and for all those grieving the death of our officers tonight, who serve to protect our community. May peace be with you all.”
5. Four Other Police Officers Were Shot in Two Other Cities That Same Night
It was a terrible night for law enforcement. Two police officers were also shot in Jacksonville, Florida. They are in critical and stable condition initially, but both are not in stable condition. They were shot when a suicidal suspect fired a high-powered rifle through a doorway at them. The suspect was killed by police.
Derrick Brabham was identified as the shooter of the Jacksonville officers. A Facebook page in Brabham’s name was filled with posts about the KKK, racism, police shootings, Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, and depression. “I wanna say black lives matter but I don’t feel like mine does,” a 2016 post on the page read. However, police have alleged the shootings sparked because of an alcohol-laden domestic violence situation, not political motive.
Two troopers were shot in Fairchance, Pennsylvania. Both were in stable condition. That suspect was also killed by police. The Fairchance police shooter was named as Clarence A. Belsar III.
On Facebook, one woman angrily wrote, “I am tired of seeing people talk foul about Clarence Belsar regardless of his priors or pending charges.. He was a theif (sic), a recovering addict and a wild child.. But he was so much more than that. He was a son a best friend a fiance and most importantly a FATHER!!! He did not deserve to be shot 14x and laid out on the concrete for 4 hours while they investigate. That was over kill and the police set him up.. Now everyone please f*ck off and go on about your day with your family while you still have one.. I will be mourning the loss of my love and my children’s father.. Let me mourn in peace without all of the negative comments..”
She linked to a Facebook page in Belsar’s name that contained this former profile picture:
His intro on Facebook read, “my baby girls are my world i do everything for them” and “making sure me n my family eats.”
His other posts were about his family and selfies.
Station Commander Capt. Joseph Ruggery told reporter Paul Peirce of TribLive that Belsar was a burglary suspect in cases police were investigating. Ruggery told the newspaper that “troopers set up a buy via Facebook for a PlayStation gaming console in Fairchance near the Shop ‘n Save on West Church Street. When Belsar arrived, the troopers identified themselves as police and informed him he was under arrest.” He tried to flee, a struggle ensued and after troopers restrained him, “our investigation shows that he pulled out a .38-caliber handgun from his waistband and fired one round,” Ruggery said to TribLive.