Two law enforcement officers have been killed during a massive manhunt for a murder suspect in Orlando, Fla.
Master Sgt. Debra Clayton radioed from a Wal-Mart shortly after 7 a.m. Monday, saying she was “attempting to contact a murder suspect,” according to a statement from the City of Orlando. Other officers radioed two minutes later, reporting that an officer had been shot. The 17-year veteran of the department died after she was transported to a hospital.
Police are seeking Markeith Loyd in the murder of a pregnant woman named Sade Dixon last month.
Loyd fled from the Wal-Mart and pulled into a nearby apartment building, where police say he fired shots at a sheriff’s deputy but did not harm him. Loyd then allegedly stole a car and escaped.
This put a manhunt into motion for the suspect, described as “armed and extremely dangerous.” During the search, authorities say, a sheriff’s deputy riding a motorcycle was hit by a car and later died. The deputy has been identified as Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, an 11-year-veteran of the force.
“This is probably one of the toughest days for me in my career,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters. “Because 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 as a result of these broad efforts that we have underway.”
Law enforcement is “highly motivated to bring this suspect to justice,” the sheriff said. There is a reward of up to $60,000 for information about the 41-year-old Loyd.
The Orlando Police Department says Clayton was married with a son. “She was extremely committed to our youth and really, the community,” Orlando Police Chief John Mina told reporters. “And she did so many different projects in the community. She organized several marches against violence by herself — that’s how committed she is.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that Lewis was a “gentle giant” with a “million dollar smile.”
In a statement, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “These tragic deaths make clear the great risks that our brave men and women in uniform face each and every day, and the deep and abiding gratitude that our nation owes them for their service.”