Hero Down: What We Know About Murdered Hero Sergeant Debra Clayton

Orlando Sgt. Debra Clayton

Orlando Sgt. Debra Clayton

Orlando Police Department Sergeant Debra Clayton

Orlando, FL –  Orlando Police Department Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, and an Orange County Deputy Sheriff, whose name has not yet been released, were killed Monday, January 9, 2017, in separate but related incidents.

According to FoxNews US, the suspect, Markeith Loyd, had been a fugitive since December 13, 2016, when he shot and killed Sade Dixon, age 24, who was pregnant, after she broke up with him.  During the same incident, Loyd shot and critically wounded her brother, Ronald Stewart.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was putting bags in the trunk of her vehicle in the Walmart shopping lot around 7:40 AM this morning when a shopper approached her.  The shopper told her that Loyd, who was wanted by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for Sade Dixon’s Murder and Ronald Stewart’s Assault, was inside the Walmart in the checkout line.  Master Sgt. Clayton walked toward the Walmart as Loyd came out of the store.

Markeith Loyd began shooting at Master Sgt. Clayton, who was struck repeatedly.  A witness, James Herman, said that Loyd fired at least 12 times and was wearing a security officer uniform.  James Herman also said that he witnessed the shooting and that Sergeant Clayton just asked Loyd to stop and Loyd “shot her down.”  The ambulance that transported Master Sgt. Clayton to the hospital was escorted by multiple Orlando Police Officers and Orange County Deputies.  She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Multiple Officers arrived to assist Master Sgt. Clayton.  Markeith Loyd, age 41, began shooting at the responding officers, hitting one Deputy’s unmarked SUV.  He then carjacked a vehicle, and fled to another apartment complex.  A massive manhunt was launched and Loyd was thought to be barricaded inside an apartment. The SWAT team was called out but has since stood down.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was a motorcycle officer, was enroute to assist Master Sgt. Clayton, when a van pulled out in front of him.  Witnesses say that the deputy had a green light when the vehicle pulled in front of him. The Deputy, who has not yet been identified, was ejected from his 2014 Harley Davidson.  He was critically injured and transported to a local hospital, where he died a short time later.  He was 35-years-old.  The driver of the van was not injured.

Multiple schools in the area were placed on lockdown and the Walmart was closed.  Traffic was diverted from several areas.  A reward of up to $60,000 has been offered for information on Loyd’s location.  The intense manhunt continues for Loyd.  Orlando Police Chief John Mina said “We’re going to bring this dirtbag to justice.  There’s going to be someone who knows where he is.”  Florida Governor Rick Scott said  “Any act of violence against our heroes is cowardly and shameful and our state will not stand for it.”

City Commissioner Regina Hill said that Master Sgt. Clayton was her Orlando Police Department liaison.  She had served for 17 years with the Orlando Police Department.  She had two children and had been married for one year. Police released a video earlier today that showed Master Sgt. Clayton’s flag-draped coffin leaving the hospital while multiple Officers were saluting as they stood outside and other Officers following behind.  Orlando Police said via Twitter that “The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today. One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words.”

Orlando PD Chief John Mina said “Debra Clayton is a hero, and she gave her life to protect the community she loves.”  Orlando Mayor Buddy Guy declared today to be a day of mourning. Derrick McRae, pastor of the Experience Christian Center in Orlando, was a childhood friend of Master Sgt. Clayton. He said that he once told her that she was too nice to be a police officer, and that her reply was “I’m going to make a change.”  He also said that she did make a change in the community, helping various initiatives, including one where his church gave away bicycles and toys at Christmas.  Pastor McRae also said that Master Sgt. Clayton was one of the first responders at the fairly recent Pulse Nightclub mass shooting.  He said that she “lived her life as an example for others.”

Sergeant Debra Clayton was 42 years old, married just one year ago and her husband was at the hospital with her. She was a 17-year veteran of the department. She leaves behind her husband and her son.

We send our thoughts and prayers are with Orlando.  Godspeed, sister and brother, we will take it from here.  Thank you for your service.

Sergeant Debra Clayton, your life mattered.

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