Orlando Police Officer Killed in Early Morning Shooting; Deputy Dies During Manhunt

A sheriff's deputy died in a motorcycle crash as part the search efforts for suspect Markeith Loyd

A veteran Orlando police officer was fatally shot Monday morning and a sheriff's deputy was killed in a vehicle accident while searching for the suspect in the slaying, authorities said.

Authorities have launched a massive manhunt for 41-year-old Markeith Loyd in connection with the shooting of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran, near a Wal-Mart store in northwest Orlando, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.

"He should be considered armed and dangerous," Mina said. "He will be brought to justice."

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Loyd was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend last December, Mina said. Authorities urged the public to be cautious and assist law enforcement officers in finding him.

Seventeen area schools were placed on lock down after the shooting, and police offered a $60,000 reward for information leading to Loyd's capture. 

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Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Norman Lewis was killed more than two hours after the shooting when a van collided with his motorcycle as he responded to the manhunt.. Another Orlando Police officer also was involved in a crash while responding to the shooting but only had minor injuries, Sheriff Jerry L. Demings said.

"This is probably one of the toughest days in my career" of 36 years, said Demings, who hired Clayton to the Orlando Police Department.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a day of mourning in the city.

While at the Wal-Mart Monday morning, Clayton was tipped off by someone that Loyd was in the area. When she approached him, he fired multiple shots at Clayton Clayton returned fire but officials said they don't believe Loyd was hit.

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Sheriff's officials said that after the report of the shooting, Loyd was spotted by a deputy fleeing in the Orlando police officer's vehicle. The suspect pulled into a nearby apartment complex and then fired at a deputy, striking the deputy's SUV twice. The deputy wasn't harmed, the sheriff's office said.

Loyd then carjacked another vehicle, drove away and then abandoned the vehicle not far away, according to the sheriff's office. The manhunt was being conducted where he abandoned the vehicle.

The Orlando Sentinel reports at least seven Orlando police officers and Orange County Sheriff's deputies were seen escorting an ambulance carrying the officer to the hospital shortly after the shooting, where they later died.

Mina called Clayton a hero for her community, noting that she organized anti-violence rallies.

"At the Orlando Police Department, we're a huge family, we really are," he said. "We are giving everything her husband needs."

"She made a point, even outside her working hours, do to things for youth and do things for the community," said Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon, who added he assumed she was wearing a bulletproof vest since that is agency policy.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also appeared at the press conference, saying he was "heartbroken and angry" and offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

Scott noted the irony that the shooting and officer's pursuit death took place on the first day of his proclaimed First Responder Appreciation week.

"This tragic shooting serves as a sobering reminder of how important it is for each one of us to take every opportunity to thank these heroes for their service and sacrifice," Scott said.

An earlier version of this story misspelleds shooting suspect's Markeith Loyd's last name. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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