In Orlando today, Jan. 9, Master Sgt. Debra Clayton became the first officer to be shot and killed in the line of duty this year.
According to the Orlando Police Department, Master Sgt. Clayton was at a Walmart store this morning when a citizen told her a wanted suspect was in the store. Clayton radioed in to say she was attempting to contact the suspect.
According to witnesses, the suspect walked out of the entrance just as Clayton was approaching the doors. The suspect immediately began shooting. She was wearing body armor and was able to return fire, but apparently did not hit the suspect.
Officers radioed in to say that an officer had been shot. Dispatch immediately broadcast a call for help. The first responding officers on scene began CPR. Clayton was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Clayton was married and has a child in college. She has been with the OPD since May 1999, and was promoted to the rank of master sergeant in 2016.
The still-at-large suspect in her shooting death, Markeith Loyd, is wanted for the December 2016 murder of a pregnant woman.
Loyd was spotted fleeing in a vehicle from the area by an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy. Loyd pulled into a nearby apartment complex and fired at the deputy, striking his unmarked SUV twice. The deputy was not harmed.
Loyd then carjacked a vehicle and fled again. He later abandoned that vehicle.
As of this writing, a large search is under way for Loyd and a $60,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest.
Tragically, an Orange County Sheriff’s motorcycle deputy responding to the scene was struck and killed by a motorist.
The deputy’s name has not been released pending notification of his extended family.
In an ironic twist, today also been designated National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.