A highly decorated, mentally unstable ex-Marine kills two Central Florida police officers.
COMPILED FROM WIRE REPORTS
ORLANDO – On Aug.18, after investigators say he shot two Kissimmee police officers, Everett Glenn Miller was sitting at a Kissimmee (Orange County) bar.
Miller, 45, had been acting suspiciously and would not leave, a manager at Roscoe’s Bar & Packaging told Osceola County deputy sheriffs. He matched the description of the man who had shot two police officers, according to documents.
When the officers approached him, Miller reached for his waistband – he was armed with two handguns – but a deputy tackled him to the ground and arrested him.
As six deputies and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper tried to remove him, Miller cursed at them and insisted he “didn’t do anything,” records show.
“I’m innocent,” he yelled. “I didn’t do it, I’m a veteran.”
But later that night in an interview room at Kissimmee police headquarters, Miller’s demeanor changed.
Wanted to die
“Everett began to cry, said he did not want to live and pleaded with me to kill him,” Detective Cpl. Charles Hess wrote in an arrest report. Hess told him that nobody at the station was going to kill him and asked why he would say that.
“I have done a bad thing,” Miller said.
Miller is accused of shooting and killing Officer Matthew Baxter and Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard during a routine stop, allegedly opening fire on officers who didn’t have a chance to fire back.
Baxter reportedly stopped Miller minutes earlier in a group of three people he deemed “suspicious.” Howard was in the area and decided to help as backup.
Baxter, 27, died Friday night shortly after the shooting. He was married to a fellow Kissimmee Police officer and had four children. Howard, 36, had one child and died Saturday afternoon, Aug. 19.
Miller is being held without bail in the Osceola County Jail. He had no criminal record in the state, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show.
Last month, Miller stripped down to his boxers, then marched down an Osceola County road last month carrying a high-powered rifle.
The incident, which several friends and family described in detail this week to an Orlando Sentinel reporter, led to Miller being held for three days on Florida’s Baker Act, which is used to involuntarily commit people going through a mental health crisis.
The 45-year-old Marine Corps veteran was struggling and lost.
After two decades, he left a successful military career in 2010 and came home to a world in which he didn’t know how to function. Numerous family members, including his mother, Joann Butler, say he was taking medications for post-traumatic stress disorder.
He’d talk to her about his time in the military, but would say he was “afraid someone would kill him for telling me what he had done in there,” Butler said.
Family members and friends say they had seen an even more drastic change in Miller recently after he lost his job and went through a rough breakup.
“For years and years of his life, he was programmed to live one way. He couldn’t move on. It was tearing him apart, and I saw his downward spiral,” said Edwin Garcia, 47, a high school classmate who reconnected with Miller this year. “He wasn’t the monster people think he was.”
He would tell others to get down on the ground if a car drove by their home and would patrol his home nightly, all because he was worried someone was after him, according to Butler, his aunts, cousins and friends.
He would break down often because he was haunted by thoughts that his work in the military led to deaths and destruction overseas, friends said.
Miller always wanted to be a Marine. He joined the military right out of high school in 1989 and quickly moved up the ranks, finishing his career after dozens of awards and three deployments during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a master sergeant, military records show.
Immediately after he was discharged, he did contract work as a civilian for a business near MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, then returned home to Kissimmee, friends said.
But the adjustment to civilian life was hard. He and his wife, who have two adult children, divorced in 2015. He started changing and the within the last few months, those closest to him noticed.
“One moment he was smiling and the next he’d start punching the air, then he’d be crying,” his cousin Shaamar Bey said. “That’s not normal, having three different emotions in a few seconds.”
Miller worked as an imagery analyst specialist for a portion of his career and helped scout potential targets that were later bombed, said Garcia, who shared military stories with Miller because of his Air Force service.
He told Garcia through tears that he was haunted with thoughts that his work led to the deaths of women and children and the destruction of entire villages overseas, according to Garcia.
An internal police memo said Miller posted a video on Facebook July 14 threatening police officers. The department warned the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, but neither Osceola County nor Kissimmee law enforcement agencies were told, because Miller had an Orange County address.
Records from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office on the July 11 Baker Act incident were redacted and shed little light. After he was held, Butler said she pleaded for Osceola County deputies to take away his guns.
“He was not well. It was obvious he needed help and shouldn’t have any firearms,” she said. “I begged and begged them to take them.
“It’s not an excuse to what happened by any means but I think knowing his history helps people understand why,” Butler said. “We’re grieving for the families of these two officers – but our family is also grieving.”
Orlando Sentinel staff writers Gal Tziperman Lotan, Christal Hayes, and David Harris provided information for this report.