Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot and killed on the morning of January 9, police said. Markeith Loyd is the suspect in her death and is on the loose. After Clayton was shot, Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, who was on a motorcycle, was killed in an accident during the manhunt for Loyd. Orlando Police said they finally captured Loyd on January 17 after he was on the run for eight days.
Clayton was a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department and was remembered by Orlando Police Chief John Mina as a person dedicated to her job and making her community a better place. She was also a mother, with one child. She was just promoted to Master Sergeant last year and was among the police officers who responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016.
After Loyd was captured, Mina tweeted that he was cuffed with Clayton’s handcuffs.
A memorial fund for Clayton’s family at GoFundMe was launched on January 9. In seven days, it has passed its goal and has raised $57,070 for her family.
The Orlando Police Department said that Clayton is the first Orlando Police Officer killed in the line of duty since Officer Al Gordon was killed during a robbery in October 2007.
Here’s a look at Clayton and her death.
1. Clayton Tried to Arrest Loyd, Who Is a Suspect in the Murder of His Pregnant Girlfriend in December
Clayton was killed in the parking lot of the Princeton Street Walmart on Monday morning, after spotting Loyd. Police said that she was trying to corner him and arrest him when he shot at her, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Police said in a statement that Clayton reported her attempt to arrest Loyd at 7:17 a.m. Officers rushed to the scene to meet her, but two minutes later, they radioed back that an officer was shot.
The first responding officer performed CPR and Clayton was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center. She was pronounced dead at 7:40 a.m.
Clayton tried to arrest Loyd because he is wanted in the death of Sadie Dixon, a 24-year-old woman who was Loyd’s girlfriend. She was shot and killed in December when she was three months pregnant, WESH reported at the time. Loyd also wounded her brother, Ronald Steward.
After fleeing the scene, an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy spotted Loyd, who shot at the deputy as well. Loyd missed and instead hit the deputy’s SUV. After that, the Sheriff’s Office told the public that there was a manhunt underway in the Cinderlane and Rosemont Parkway area of Orlando. The office wrote that people should not approach Loyd because he is considered dangerous. Instead, they asked the public to call 911 if they see him.
Unfortunately, during the manhunt, a Sheriff’s deputy on a motorcycle was killed, police said. The deputy was Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an 11-year veteran.
2. Clayton Died at 7:40 a.m. at Orlando Medical Center
Clayton was rushed to Orlando Medical Center after the shooting. She died of her injuries at 7:40 a.m. At 10:10 a.m., the Orlando Police Department posted the above photo, showing her casket being taken out of the hospital.
“The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today. One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words,” the department wrote.
“A hero remembered never dies. M/Sgt. Debra Clayton always had time to mentor our youth,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina wrote in a tweet. He included photos of her work with the Orlando community.
3. Clayton Was Married & a Mother to 1 Child
During a press conference at Orlando Medical Center, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said Clayton was married and had a child. They spoke with the family before announcing her identity to the public.
Just before police identified Clayton, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill wrote on Facebook that Clayton was her OPD liaison. She later changed her Facebook page cover photo to Clayton’s image.
“Oh God!!!! Please pray for my OPD Liaison. She’s been shot down in Pinehills,” Hill wrote.
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4. Clayton Was Committed to Community Service & Planned Community Events Herself
In his press conference, Mina said that Clayton was deeply committed to helping the Orlando community and her job.
“She was extremely committed to our youth and, really, the community,” Mina said of Clayton. “She did so many different projects in the community. She organized several marches against violence by herself. That’s how committed she is.”
He also called Clayton a “hero” who “gave her life protecting the community that she loves.”
Here is another photo Orlando police shared of Clayton working with children.
WFTV reports that Clayton was among the first officers to respond to the Pulse nightclub shooting in June.
“Sgt. Clayton was a fine law enforcement officer, wife, and mother who served her community with pride and as a mentor to young women,” Rep. Val Demings told WFTV. “Gone, but never forgotten.”
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5. Clayton Was Killed on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day
Clayton and the unidentified deputy were both killed on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. This was an event set up by the group Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.). The goal of the event is to show thanks to the men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line each day to protect the public.
“In light of recent negativity directed toward law enforcement nationally, there is a need to show law enforcement officers that our citizens recognize the difficult and sometimes impossible career they have chosen, in public service to us all,” the C.O.P.S. team’s website reads.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced that January 9 will be a day of mourning in the city.
“I am heartbroken and angered to hear of the shooting and death of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton this morning,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said in a statement. “I am also saddened by the death of an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy who tragically lost his life in a vehicle accident while responding to this morning’s shooting. My wife Ann and I join Floridians across the state in praying for these officers and their families during this unimaginable time. We ask that God provide them with much needed healing, comfort and hope. Any act of violence against our heroes is cowardly and shameful and our state will not stand for it. I know the entire Orlando Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are working diligently to bring justice and ensure the Orlando community is safe and secure.”
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