ORLANDO, Fla. – Two peace officers in Florida have died in the line of duty today. One was murdered, the other died in a collision while searching for the suspect.
First, Orlando Police Department Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran was murdered by gunfire. Markeith Loyd, 41, is accused of murdering his pregnant girlfriend last month. Now he is being hunted in the murder of Clayton. LET reported the incident earlier and can be viewed here.
During the manhunt for Clayton’s accused killer, an Orange County motorcycle deputy who was part of the effort to find the suspect was killed in a collision, said Sheriff Jerry Demings.
“We’re sad on this day for many reasons,” Demings said at a morning news conference at Orlando Regional Medical Center. “In my 36-year career, this is possibly one of the toughest days for me.”
Both officers were taken to ORMC and pronounced dead there, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Demings did not release the name of the deputy, saying the agency was still trying to notify relatives.
Both agencies identified Loyd as the shooter.
He has a long criminal history and on Nov. 30 wrote this on his Facebook page, “Goals!!!! To be on Americas most wanted,” according to the paper.
Hundreds of peace officers from allied agencies are spread out across Pine Hills, a high crime area west of Orlando, blocking roads and trying to find the suspect.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina called Clayton, a mother of two, “a hero. She gave her life for the community she loves.”
She was one of the first officers to respond to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in June that left 49 people dead and scores injured.
“We are going to bring this dirtbag to justice, and he’s going to jail,” Mina said.
Both OPD and the Sheriff’s Office described Loyd as armed and dangerous, and Demings asked anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact law enforcement immediately.
The fatal crash involving the deputy occurred about 9:45 a.m. on Pine Hills Road. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a deputy on a motorcycle was traveling south when he was struck by a 2010 Honda van driven by Clermont resident Billie Jarrard, 78, who was turning left onto Balboa Drive, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Jarrard “turned into the direct path” of the deputy, who was thrown from his motorcycle and killed, troopers reported. In a statement, the FHP said charges were pending.
Ten minutes after that crash and 200 yards away but also on Pine Hills Road, OPD Officer Robert Castro was involved in a crash that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries, Mina said.
Deputies had been on the lookout for Lloyd for weeks because of a murder warrant. He’s not only accused of murdering his pregnant 24-year-old girlfriend, but wounding her brother as well.
Loyd served ten years in prison and five years probation for conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine, according to federal court records, reported the Sentinel.
He was sentenced in 1999 and was released from probation in 2014, according to federal records.