A manhunt is currently underway in Orlando, Florida, for a man who shot and killed a 17-year police veteran, wife and mother of two.
On Monday morning, Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was attempting to make contact with a murder suspect at a Walmart. A short two minutes after attempting to detain the man, officials received a call of an officer shot.
According to witness James Herman, “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 took off running. It’s unreal.”
Herman explained to Channel 9 News, “As he was running, he was shooting back, he was shooting backwards. I hit the ground on the side over here because I wasn’t sure where the shooting was coming from at first.”
Police later identified the suspect as 41-year-old Markeith Loyd, who, one month ago, murdered his pregnant girlfriend and got away.
“The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today,” the department tweeted after the heartbreaking occurrence. “One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words.”
The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today. One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words. pic.twitter.com/M48o1nnr4h
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) January 9, 2017
The department also shared several photos of Clayton on social media, calling her a hero and a woman who always had a smile for the kids. “Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, wkd dayshift patrol, will be missed beyond words. She always had a smile/high five 4 every/kid she came across,” one tweet read.
Per officials, Clayton was also one of the first officers to arrive to the tragic mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub last year.
Unfortunately for the city, the morning was far from over.
Following the officer involved shooting, multiple agencies set out for an intense manhunt to find the suspected killer.
During the race to find Loyd, an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy on a motorcycle was killed in a crash. According to officials, “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.”
Mayor Buddy Dyer has already called today an official day of mourning.
The suspected murderer, meanwhile, is still at large. Authorities are now offering a $60,000 reward. “We’re going to bring this dirtbag to justice and he’s going to jail,” Orlando police Chief John Mina said.
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