A man wanted for allegedly killing a pregnant woman gunned down a veteran police sergeant in Orlando this morning as she tried to stop him from fleeing, officials said.
Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a wife and mother, was on duty by herself around 7 a.m. near a Walmart, when a citizen approached her about the suspect, Markeith Loyd, 41, and said he was nearby, the Orlando police said.
Clayton found Loyd and then chased him. When Clayton told him to stop running, he opened fire, police said. Clayton, who was wearing body armor, was shot multiple times, police said, and later died.
Afterwards, he fled and allegedly stole a car before being last seen at an apartment complex.
Authorities said Loyd is known to officers and is considered dangerous.
"We are going to bring this dirtbag to justice," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a news conference this morning. “It doesn’t matter where he goes – we will track him down to the ends of the earth," Mina later said.
A reward up to $60,000 has been offered for information about Loyd’s location. Police say they are confident that Loyd has had help hiding.
"I believe there have been people out there helping him all along. He has been wanted for several weeks now for a murder," Mina said. "So certainly people continue to help him. And if we find out about those people, we will criminally charge them."
Four schools in the Orlando area were on lockdown today due to the manhunt, but students at the schools were to be released to go home at the normal dismissal times this afternoon, sheriff's office officials said.
A second law enforcement officer, a motorcycle officer from the Orange County Sheriff's office, was also killed in the line of duty while responding to the Walmart shooting this morning, authorities said. The officer was struck by a motorist and killed, the sheriff's office said. The sheriff's office later identified him as Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an 11-year veteran.
At a news conference today, police called Clayton a hero, saying she gave her life protecting the community she loved.
Clayton grew up in Orlando and "deeply cared" about the community, the police said.
She had been with the Orlando Police Department since 1999 and was promoted to Master Sergeant last year, the police said.
She has a son, who is in college, police said.
THIS is how we know and remember Sergeant Debra Clayton. She always had a smile for kids and always took a moment to interact w/community. pic.twitter.com/8zL46iyUe6— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) January 9, 2017
Orlando police on Twitter called it "tragic irony" that the officers died on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.