Orlando police officer killed, manhunt underway for suspect

Orlando police officer shot, killed; $60,000 reward offered for suspect

Two Orlando-area law enforcement officers were killed this morning, one shot by a murder suspect who managed to get away and a second killed in a crash while officers and deputies scrambled to find him.

Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot about 7:15 a.m. today by a murder suspect after a citizen spotted him at a Walmart and alerted the officer, the agency reported.

A sheriff's deputy later was killed in a crash with a 78-year-old driver.

Law enforcement responded to the shooting with a manhunt that included hundreds of officers. They also offered a $60,000 reward for anyone helping them capture the suspect, Markeith Loyd, 41, who was accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend in December.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina called Clayton "a hero. She gave her life for the community she loves."

She had one child, the department reported, and was one of the first officers to respond to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in June that left 49 people dead and scores injured.After the shooting officers and deputies spread out across Pine Hills, a high crime area just west of Orlando, blocking off dozens of roads, hoping to find Loyd.

"We are going to bring this dirtbag to justice, and he's going to jail," Mina said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent out an alert midday, describing him as 6-3, 230 pounds and having last been seen on Cinderlane Parkway, a road through another high-crime area: Rosemont.

An Orlando SWAT team came and went and came back again to an apartment complex on that street.

Early on, an officer on a bullhorn called the suspect by name and told him to come out. Overhead a law enforcement helicopter circled.

At an early afternoon news conference Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said that complex was still part of the area where authorities believed the gunman was hiding.

“We have several hundred law enforcement officers from multiple agncies that are assisting us. .... We are reasonably certain that we have the suspect in the area,” he said.

TaQueria Jones, a Walmart cashier, said Clayton checked out at her register minutes before the shooting.

“We talked about family, we talked about God," Jones said.

The casher and others on Mnoday planted flowers in a spot just feet from where Clayton was killed.

“I’m going to be out here every day to straighten them up. Every day," Jones said.

The second law enforcement death today was an Orange County motorcycle deputy who was part of the effort to find the suspect, Demings said.

“We’re sad on this day for many reasons," Demings said at a morning news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center. "In my 36-year career, this is possibly one of the toughest days for me."

Both officers were taken to ORMC and pronounced dead there.

Demings did not release the name of the deputy, saying the agency was still trying to notify relatives.

Loyd has a long criminal history and on Nov. 30 wrote this on his Facebook page, "Goals!!!! To be on Americas most wanted."

Both OPD and the Sheriff's Office described him as armed and dangerous, and Demings asked anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact law enforcement immediately.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs asked Orange County residents to simply stay indoors.

"We need citizens to be diligent, we need them to be careful. ... If you don't have to be out, don't be out," she said.

Also at that morning news conference were Mina, Demings, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Gov. Rick Scott, who happened to be in town for a business event but cancelled it.

The violence started just before sunrise when a citizen who knows Loyd and knew he was a wanted man alerted Clayton, a 17-year department veteran and patrol officer, Mina said.

Clayton, who was on duty and wearing body armor, made contact with Loyd, who fired at her, Mina said. The chief said Clayton also fired at Loyd, but investigators do not believe she wounded him.

Two minutes later, Mina said, there was a radio call that an officer had been shot.

The first set of officers that arrived tried to save her with CPR, according to the city.

A short distance away, a captain at the Orange County Sheriff's Office who was in the area in an unmarked SUV spotted Loyd, according to that department.

Loyd pulled into an apartment complex and fired at least once at the deputy, missing him but hitting his SUV, the agency reported.

The suspect then carjacked a vehicle and fled. He abandoned that vehicle near Rosemont and Cinderlane Parkway.

That prompted the manhunt and produced two law enforcement crashes.

The fatal crash happened about 9:45 a.m. on Pine Hills Road. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a deputy on a motorcycle was traveling south when he was struck by a van driven whose driver turned left onto Balboa Drive.

The deputy crashed into the side of the van, was thrown from his motorcycle and killed, FHP reported.

Ten minutes after that crash and 200 yards away but also on Pine Hills Road, another law enforcement officer was involved in a crash that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries, according to the highway patrol.

Deputies had been on the lookout for Lloyd for weeks because of a murder warrant: He's accused of murdering his pregnant 24-year-old girlfriend, Sade Dixon, on Dec. 13 and wounding her 26-year-old brother, Ronald Steward. They were shot at a home on Long Peak Drive.

Loyd had gone to their home, banged on the door, and when Dixon answered, he shot her, the Sheriff’s Office reported. Loyd then shot her brother, who was critically injured.

Five other people were at the home at the time, including Dixon’s 5- and 7-year-old children.

Shortly after today's shooting, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill identified Clayton as her liaison with the police department.

Hill posted on Facebook, "Oh God!!!! Please pray for my OPD Liaison, she's been shot down in Pinehills."

The last OPD officer killed in the line of duty was Al Gordon, who was shot during a robbery Oct. 4, 2007, the agency reported.

Dyer declared Monday an official day of mourning and cancelled a City Council meeting.

Earlier, Scott had declared this week Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Week.

Said Demings, "To lose two law enforcement officers on this Law Enforcement Appreciation Day is indeed a tragedy. ... It's a reminder that law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every single day to protect all of us."

Said Scott, "It breaks my heart that one of them was already senselessly killed this morning."

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said agents with the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Marshals Office were helping in the search.

At the Rosemont neighborhood apartment complex that had been surrounded by officers, Michael Ridenour, 40, said he heard the Sheriff's Office helicopter overhead about 7:30 a.m. and went outside to see officers with rifles telling residents to stay indoors.

"It's scary," he said. "I mean if he's willing to shoot a police officer, he's willing to shoot anybody."

Loyd served ten years in prison and five years on probation for conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, according to federal court records.

He was sentenced in 1999 and was released from probation in 2014, according to federal records.

Several schools in the area were placed on lockdown, but by 3:45 p.m. the last had been lifted. They included Evans High, Meadowbrook Middle, Lockhart Middle, Pine Hills Elementary, Rolling Hills Elementary, Robinswood Middle, Pinewood Elementary and Lockhart Elementary.

Several charter schools also were on lockdown: Innovations, Kids Community College, Lucious & Emma Nixon Academy, Nap Ford Community School, Oasis, Orlando Science Charter School and UCP Pine Hills.

The driver of the van that collided with the motorcycle deputy who was killed is Billie Jarrard of Clermont, FHP reported. He faced possible charges.

No one answered the phone Monday afternoon at his home. Records show he is a 78-year-old recent widower with no criminal history in Florida. Online court records in Lake County list one traffic offense, for failing to obey a traffic control device in 2000.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

Red Huber, Caitlin Dineen, David Harris, Steve Lemongello and Jeff Weiner contributed to this report.

Demings did not release the name of the deputy, saying the agency was still trying to notify relatives.

Both agencies identified the shooter as Markeith Loyd, 43, a man who officers and deputies with the Orange County Sheriff's Office tried to corner and arrest earlier today.

As part of the manhunt hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies across Central Florida were spread out across Pine Hills, a high crime area just west of Orlando, blocking off dozens of roads.

"We are going to bring this dirtbag to justice," Mina said.

Both agencies described Loyd as armed and dangerous, and Demings asked that anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact law enforcement immediately.

The violence started about 7:15 a.m. when Clayton, a 17-year department veteran, tried to contact Loyd at a Walmart, Mina said.

It's not clear why she confronted him or precisely what happened.

Two minutes later, Mina said, came the radio call that an officer had been shot.

A captain at the Orange County Sheriff's Office was in the area in an unmarked SUV and spotted Loyd, according to that department.

Loyd pulled into an apartment complex and fired at least once at the deputy, missing him but hitting his SUV, the agency reported.

The suspect then carjacked a vehicle and fled. He abandoned that vehicle near Rosemont and Cinderlane Parkway, a location where officers and deputies concentrated their search.

That prompted the manhunt and produced the two law enforcement-related vehicle crashes.

The fatal crash happened more than two hours later on Pine Hills Road as a deputy on a motorcycle went through an intersection, Demings said.

Ten minutes after that crash and 200 yards away but also on Pine Hills Road, OPD Officer Robert Castro was involved in a crash that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries, Mina said.

Deputies had been on the lookout for Lloyd for weeks because of a murder warrant: He's accused of murdering his pregnant 24-year-old girlfriend, Sade Dixon, on Dec. 13 and wounding her 26-year-old brother, Ronald Steward. They were shot at a home on Long Peak Drive.

Loyd had gone to their home, banged on the door, and when Dixon answered, he shot her, the Sheriff’s Office reported. Loyd then shot her brother, who was critically injured.

Five other people were at the home at the time, including Dixon’s 5- and 7-year-old children.

Shortly after today's shooting, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill identified Clayton as her liaison with the police department.

Hill posted on Facebook, "Oh God!!!! Please pray for my OPD Liaison, she's been shot down in Pinehills."

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared Monday an official day of mourning and cancelled a City Council meeting.

Loyd has a long criminal record. He served ten years in prison and five years probation for conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, according to federal court records.

He was sentenced in 1999 and was released from probation in 2014, according to federal records.

Several schools in the area have been placed on lockdown because of police activity. Those schools include Evans High; Meadowbrook Middle and Lockhart Middle; and Pine Hills Elementary, Rolling Hills Elementary, Robinswood Middle, Pinewood Elementary and Lockhart Elementary.

Several charter schools also were on lockdown: Innovations, Kids Community College, Lucious & Emma Nixon Academy, Nap Ford Community School, Oasis, Orlando Science Charter School and UCP Pine Hills

Governor Rick Scott had been scheduled to attend a jobs event this morning with KPMG in Orlando but because of the shooting, dropped that event, according to press aide Jackie Schutz.

© Orlando Police via Twitter Undated photo of Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton.

Manhunt grips Orlando as police search for suspect in officer's shooting death

An "armed and dangerous" murder suspect wanted in a shooting that killed a police officer outside a Walmart in Orlando was on the loose, officials warned, saying their intense manhunt would not end until they found the gunman.

The suspect, identified as Markeith Loyd, was accused of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend last month, Fox 35 reported, adding that police had never caught him.

Police hiked their reward for information on his whereabouts to $60,000. An Orlando SWAT team had surrounded an apartment complex a couple miles northwest of the Walmart around noon, demanding Loyd step outside, but eventually left.

Earlier in the day, a motorcycle crash killed an Orange County deputy sheriff taking part in the manhunt, the sheriff announced.

"We're going to bring this dirtbag to justice," Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters. "We will track him down to the ends of the earth."

Loyd had been arrested 20 times in Orange County since 1994, according to court records. He was wearing a T-shirt that read "security" during the shooting, Mina said.

Police identified the officer killed as Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the force and mother of two, married for one year. Officials did not identify the deputy who died. At least 64 officers were killed in gun-related incidents in 2016, a jump of more than 50 percent from the previous year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

"I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down," witness James Herman told WFTV. The officer was wearing protective gear and returned fire -- but apparently missed, Mina said.

Police released video of the officer's flag-draped stretcher leaving Orlando Regional Medical Center. The shooting unfolded three days after the massacre at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, which left five people dead.

Loyd had been on the run since Dec. 13 when police accused him of shooting and killing 24-year-old Sade Dixon, a pregnant mother of two, and critically wounding her brother, Ronald Steward, outside her home. Dixon's surviving relatives told Fox 35 she had just broken up with Loyd.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office stated the suspect's age as 41, but the Sentinel reported it as 43. Prosecutors reportedly had dropped drug-dealing charges against him earlier.

Herman said a shopper had tipped off the officer -- who was putting bags in the trunk of her vehicle -- that Loyd was in the Walmart waiting to check out. As the officer walked towards the store, the suspect barged out and fired at least 12 shots, according to Herman. Three shots hit the officer, WFTV reported.

After deputies launched the manhunt, the suspect pulled into a nearby apartment complex and fired shots, hitting one deputy's unmarked SUV twice before carjacking another vehicle and escaping, Fox 35 added. Nobody was reported hurt at the apartment complex.

The search also led police to the Pine Hills area a few miles west of Orlando.

City Commissioner Regina Hill identified the officer as her Orlando Police Dept. liaison. The officer's heart briefly stopped while paramedics were racing her to Orlando Regional Medical Center, rescuers said.

Officials locked down more than a dozen schools in the area for several hours, and closed the Walmart. Evidence markers were spotted in the store's parking lot.

"Any act of violence against our heroes is cowardly and shameful and our state will not stand for it," Gov. Rick Scott responded.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a day of mourning. Students and staff in the locked-down schools were safe, Fox 35 added.


Orlando police officer killed; sheriff's deputy dies during manhunt

An Orlando police officer searching for a murder suspect was gunned down Monday, and a sheriff's deputy looking for her killer died shortly later.

"To lose two law enforcement officers on this Law Enforcement Officer Appreciation Day is indeed a tragedy," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran and mother of two, died Monday morning, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.

The chief said Clayton was trying to contact a murder suspect at a Walmart at 7:17 a.m. Two minutes later, police received a call of an officer shot.

Witness James Herman told CNN affiliate WFTV the gunman was wearing a security uniform.

"He walked by me, had a security vest and everything," Herman said. "I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down."

Herman said the man continued shooting behind him as he was running from the scene.

Mina identified the suspect as Markeith Loyd, who is also wanted for the killing of a pregnant woman in December. A reward of up to $60,000 is offered for information leading to Loyd's arrest.

Sheriff's deputy killed
Authorities across Orange County scrambled to find Loyd. During the manhunt, a sheriff's deputy was killed in a crash, Demings said.

"Not only did we lose an Orlando police officer today, we lost an Orange County deputy sheriff as well who was traveling on his motorcycle," the sheriff said.

"A motorist turned in front of him. Based on eyewitness testimony, he had a green light, he was not traveling at any (high) rate of speed."

The deputy's name has not been released pending notification of relatives.

A dangerous pursuit
Demings said several law enforcement officers have been injured searching for Loyd.

At one point during the manhunt, an Orange County sheriff's captain saw a vehicle that was believed to belong to the suspect and made a U-turn, Demings said.

The suspect fired at the captain. The captain was not seriously injured, but authorities are now pursuing an attempted murder charge against the suspect.

As hundreds of law enforcement officers searched for the killer, several Orange County schools went on lockdown.

A hero who went above and beyond
While the manhunt continues, Mina said his department is grieving the death of a "hero."

"I've known Debra for 17 years. She was extremely committed to our youth and the community. She did so many different projects in the community. She organized several marches against violence by herself," the police chief said.

"Debra Clayton is a hero, and she gave her life protecting the community that she loved."

The sheriff said his department is also mourning the death of its deputy. But with an "armed and extremely dangerous" killer on the loose, there is little time to grieve.

"While we're processing our own emotional feelings, we still have a job to do," Demings said.

A deadly first for 2017
Clayton's death marks the first firearm-related fatality of a law enforcement officer in the US in 2017, said Steve Groeninger of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

On Saturday, North Las Vegas police Det. Chad Parque was killed in a traffic crash.

The deaths of Clayton and the unidentified Orange County sheriff's deputy mark the second and third on-duty law enforcement officer deaths of 2017.

Groeninger said 2016 had 136 law enforcement deaths, including 65 from firearms.

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