The City Council meeting scheduled for Monday was canceled as a result of the deaths of two law enforcement officials on Monday morning – Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton as well as an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy in a motorcycle crash while pursuing Loyd in a chase afterwards.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has said today shall be a “day of mourning.”
“[Debra Clayton’s] death and her injuries, the death of the deputy sheriff and the injuries to Deputy Castro are a reminder that our law enforcement put their lives on the line every single day to protect you and me,” he writes. “To the men and women of OPD, I and the entire City Council, stand with you and are here to support you during this difficult time.”
In what’s being called a “tragic irony,” the shooting of both officers Monday morning occurred on what is known as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
Clayton was shot near a Walmart earlier on Monday.
The man suspected in the shooting, Markeith Loyd, is also wanted for the murder of a pregnant woman last December, according to the OPD on Twitter.
Loyd was still at large late Monday morning. There is a $60,000 reward for any information on him or his whereabouts that leads to his capture, though law enforcement makes it clear that civilians shouldn’t approach him – he’s armed and dangerous.
Those with information on Loyd’s whereabouts are encouraged to call 9-1-1 or Crimeline at 800.423.TIPS.
Sheriff Jerry Demings said there won’t be any leeway for those found to be helping Loyd.
“We have a unified command with local and state assets,” he said, according to the OCSO Twitter. “If you aid and abet Loyd, you will be charged with a crime.”
Police Chief John Mina called Clayton “deeply committed to the community,” and said they were helping her family – a husband and two children – with everything they needed.
“I worked with her for 17 years,” he said. “She was deeply committed to this community. She gave her life protecting the community she loved.”
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the community’s collective hearts broke for the loss of Clayton and the deputy.
“The death of any law enforcement officer is an utter tragedy and a blow to the entire community,” she said. “We will stand with all of Central Florida and the nation in paying tribute to the service and courage of this dedicated officer.”
Sen. Randolph Bracy said the killings, as well as that of the pregnant woman last December, had only strengthened his resolve to work hard for criminal justice reform and gun control in the Senate.
“I condemn this violence and I will work hard as the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman to reform our laws, to make it harder for criminals to have access to high powered and illegal weapons in our communities,” he said. “The alleged shooter in this case is linked to another murder in the area of Pine Hills at the end of last year, underlining the need for urgent changes to stop more bloodshed. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and colleagues of the slain Orlando Police Department officer involved in this tragic event.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for prosecution of the killer to the “fullest extent of the law.”
State Rep. Kamia Brown also mourned for Clayton.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton during this difficult time,” she said. “She was a wife and a mother of two who served with the Orlando Police Department for 17 years. Her love to serve her community will be greatly missed.”
Sen. Victor Torres called Monday “a day of tremendous sadness” because of the two police killings.
“As a former New York City Transit Police Officer and lifelong public servant, I strongly condemn this violent act and I, too, pledge to work tirelessly to reform our laws, and end the ease with which hardened criminals can access high powered weapons,” he said. “We owe at least this much to Sergeant Debra Clayton, and every other law enforcement officer who has made the ultimate sacrifice.”