An Orlando police officer was fatally shot in the line of duty Monday morning and the suspect — who was already wanted for the killing of his pregnant girlfriend in December — is still at large, authorities announced.
Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot in the parking lot of a Walmart on Princeton Street in Orlando, police chief John Mina said at a Monday morning news conference. She died at 7:40 a.m., he said.
The suspect, Markeith Loyd, had been sought in the fatal shooting of his pregnant girlfriend, Mina said, adding that according to preliminary information, Clayton recognized Loyd before her fatal shooting. She was reportedly trying to detain him.
A manhunt for Loyd is ongoing and “he should be considered armed and dangerous,” Mina said.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at the news conference that authorities “have been very aggressively looking for Markeith Loyd for the past couple of weeks” in connection with the death of his girlfriend, Sade Dixon, on Dec. 13.
Demings suspects that Loyd is “receiving help from someone, and we’re calling upon sensible individuals to help us bring him to justice on this day.”
Clayton, whose family could not immediately be reached, worked weekend day-shift patrol and she “will be missed beyond words,” the Orlando Police Department wrote in a tweet. “She always had a smile/high five 4 every kid she came across.”
According to Mina, Clayton is married and has a son who is in college. He described her as “a hero, and she gave her life protecting the community she loved, and she will be deeply missed.”
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Greg Hanlon