Police: Officer shot and killed in Orlando, shooter at large, another officer dies during manhunt

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ORLANDO — An Orlando, Florida, police officer has been killed following a shooting as authorities searched for a suspect Monday and authorities said that an Orange County deputy sheriff was also killed in a traffic accident while searching for the suspect.

After the shooting outside a Walmart, the suspect fled in a vehicle, fired shots at a pursuing officer, abandoned his vehicle and carjacked another, police said in an account of the investigation.

The man ditched the second vehicle a little later and ran into an apartment complex, where the search was concentrated, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said.

Later in the day, an Orange County sheriff’s deputy searching for the suspect was killed when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle.

The officer shot to death was identified as Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, 42, a 17-year department veteran who was married and the mother of a college-age son.

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

“I’m confident we will find him,” Mina said. “It doesn’t matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth to find him.”

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

Brief foot chase

The chief said someone at the Walmart at North John Young Parkway and Princeton Street contacted Clayton and told her Loyd was in the area, Mina said. Clayton radioed at 7:17 a.m. to say she was trying to contact a murder suspect.

Mina said it appears Clayton briefly chased the suspect on foot. “As soon as she said stop he basically opened fire on her,” the chief said. Clayton returned fire but investigators don’t think she struck the gunman, Mina said.

Two minutes after Clayton’s last radio contact, police received a call of an officer shot. Officers performed CPR but could not revive Clayton.

After the vehicle chase, hundreds of law enforcement officers descended on the area. Schools were locked down and residents were urged to stay inside.

“If you don’t have to be out, don’t be out,” Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said. “We are all in this together.”

The search for Loyd was focused on the area around an apartment complex.

Mina said officers searched “dozens of apartments and residences” and won’t slow down because of darkness. Police helicopters hovered overhead.

“I believe there have been people out there helping him all along,” Mina said. “If we find out about those people we will criminally charge them.”

He said Loyd would be charged with first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer and attempted murder of the officer he fired at.

‘He shot her down’

Witness James Herman told CNN affiliate WFTV he saw the shooting outside the Walmart.

“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,” he said.

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

Herman also said the man wore a security shirt, but Mina said the suspect was not a security guard.

“That’s not uncommon,” he said. “We run into people in nightclubs that wear T-shirts that say FBI, police.”

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.”

He was identified as Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an 11-year veteran of the department.

A dangerous pursuit

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

At one point, an Orange County sheriff’s captain saw a vehicle believed to be the suspect’s 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. By 3 p.m. ET, the lockdowns had been lifted at all the schools, the school system said on Twitter.

Suspect’s girlfriend slain

CNN affiliate WFTV reported that Loyd was wanted in the December 13 fatal shooting of Sade Dixon, 24, his pregnant girlfriend, outside her home in the Pine Hills neighborhood.

She was the mother of a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old.

Dixon’s brother, Ronald Steward, was critically injured when he tried to come to Dixon’s aid, WFTV reported, citing deputies.

“She was a phenomenal woman,” Stephanie Dixon Daniels, Dixon’s mother, told WFTV. “She did everything she possibly could for her children.”

A deadly first for 2017

The Orlando Police Department tweeted a video of Clayton’s flag-draped casket as it was wheeled away from a hospital.

Clayton’s death marks the first shooting fatality of a law enforcement officer in the United States 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.

Two officers remembered

One was a mother known for working with youth in the Orlando community.

The other was a hulking former college football player known as “Big Norm.

The deaths are a double tragedy for a community still recovering from the Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 dead in June.

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

Here’s what we know about the two officers.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton's death marks the first gun-related police fatality of 2017 in the United States. Clayton, 42, was shot to death.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton’s death marks the first gun-related police fatality of 2017 in the United States. Clayton, 42, was shot to death.

Deborah Clayton

Clayton was killed Monday morning while trying to arrest Markeith Loyd, a murder suspect, outside a Walmart, police have said.

She grew up in the Orlando area and had worked 17 years for the police department, Police Chief John Mina said.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Clayton was married and had a college-age son.

“She was extremely committed to our youth and the community,” Mina said. “She did so many different projects in the community. She organized several marches against violence by herself.”

Clayton was involved in Operation Positive Direction, a youth mentoring program that helps middle and high school students “who face social, economic and academic challenges in an effort to set them on successful paths for their future,” the city website said.

“She personally traveled and mentored kids in this area and went on trips to Washington, D.C., and other parts of the country,” Mina said.

“Debra Clayton is a hero,” Mina said, “and she gave her life protecting the community that she loved.”

Norman Lewis

Lewis was killed in an auto accident about 2½ hours after Clayton was shot. As a massive manhunt for the shooting suspect was underway, Lewis was driving a motorcycle when a

Orange County Sheriff Deputy First Class Norman Lewis has been identified as the officer killed in a motorcycle accident this afternoon, the department says.  Deputy Norman was on his bike searching for the suspect in the shooting death of an Orlando Police Department officer when the accident occurred. He was an 11-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Orange County Sheriff Deputy First Class Norman Lewis has been identified as the officer killed in a motorcycle accident this afternoon, the department says. Deputy Norman was on his bike searching for the suspect in the shooting death of an Orlando Police Department officer when the accident occurred. He was an 11-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

motorist turned in front of him, Demings said.

Lewis had worked 11 years with the sheriff’s department, mostly in the traffic division. He also graduated from the University of Central Florida, playing in the offensive line on the school football team from 2000-2003 and graduating in 2004 with a degree in criminal justice, CNN affiliate WFTV reported.

Orlando attorney Brian Sandor met Lewis while both were students at UCF. They remained friends.

” ‘Big Norm’ was known as much for his infectious ear-to-ear smile as he was his 6-foot-3, nearly 300-pound towering frame,” Sandor said. “His smile and laugh took over any room he was in.”

Sandor said he would run into Lewis in the courtroom and other spots. They’d tell stories and share “inappropriate memes,” Sandor said.

“I’ll miss our time goofing off in court during recesses,” Sandor said. “He always made long breaks fly by. However, what I will miss the most is my friend and a man who I knew was always ready to protect this entire community.”

Kyle Israel, who played quarterback at UCF with Lewis, posted his thoughts on Facebook:

“R.I.P. BIG Norm. You were always a great ambassador for the UCF football program and a guy teammates always loved! Can’t believe catching up with each other two weeks ago was going to be the last time. You will be missed my friend.”

Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol told WFTV that Lewis was a loyal officer.

“He did his job every day and I think the public needs to know whether it’s doing mundane (tasks) or looking for the worst person possible, we are out there doing our jobs, and that’s what he was doing,” Montes said.