A massive manhunt is underway in Florida after a man fatally shot an Orlando police officer Monday morning, the Associated Press reports.
According to the newswire, Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was gunned down near a Wal-Mart store in northwest Orlando earlier Monday. The suspect has been identified as 41-year-old Markeith Loyd, who was also a suspect in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend last December.
"He should be considered armed and dangerous," Police Chief John Mina said at a press conference. "He will be brought to justice."
Mina praised the fallen officer as a "committed" part of the team and "a hero" who gave her life to the community she loves. Clayton was a 17-year veteran of the force and leaves behind her spouse and two children. Clayton loved children and always had a smile and a high-five for every child she came across, the department said.
According to AP, authorities released a video of Clayton's body being taken out of the hospital to a waiting van in a flag-covered stretcher. A line of officers saluted the stretcher as it was wheeled out.
It is believed that Clayton either recognized Loyd or was tipped off about his location when she approached him early Monday morning. Loyd fired multiple shots at the officer, fatally wounding her.
Officials said that Loyd was seen fleeing in the Orlando police officer's vehicle and then pulled into a nearby apartment complex before opening fire at a deputy, hitting the deputy's SUV twice. The deputy was unharmed. Loyd then allegedly carjacked another vehicle and drove away before abandoning the second vehicle not too far away, the sheriff's office said, according to AP.
Another officer, an Orange County motorcycle deputy, was killed shortly after Clayton's death in a vehicular accident that occurred during a search for the suspect in Clayton's murder.
"We're sad on this day for many reasons," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a morning news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Demings did not identify the deputy, saying that relatives were still being notified.
Authorities are offering a $60,000 reward for information leading to Loyd's whereabouts, WFTV reports.
"We're going to bring this dirtbag to justice and he's going to jail," Mina said.
A witness to the shooting at Wal-Mart, James Herman, told WFTV that the suspect "was an average-looking dude" who "had a security vest and everything."
"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 added.