Slain officer's best friend: 'She loved people'

'You didn't have to shoot her,' Dorothy Patterson says to shooter

By Jennifer Ortega - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Dorothy Patterson recalled the moment she found out Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was shot and killed, saying it felt like a dream.

“I mean, she’s gone,” Patterson said Tuesday. “I won’t ever see her again. I won’t get a chance to talk to her again.”

Patterson was at work Monday morning when she got the news. Her heart sunk. The two had known each other for 15 years.

“One of my coworkers came up to me and we were talking, and she was like, ‘Yeah, (Clayton) passed. She’s dead.’ And I said, ‘Noooo.’ I screamed. My knees went and I fell,” Patterson said.

She added that Clayton was like the sister she never had. Her smile always lit up a room.

“The smile that you see on the picture is Debra,” Patterson said. “She was kind. She was a friend -- a true friend. She loved people and she loved her family.”

The family is hurting right now, Patterson said, knowing the shooter is still out there. Markeith Loyd is accused in Clayton’s death.

“You didn’t have to shoot her,” Patterson said. “You didn’t have to kill people. Are you tired of hurting people? Because that’s all you’re doing.”

Patterson said Clayton was a strong woman, and if her call that fateful morning to Walmart was to talk Loyd down, she was going to do it, no matter what.

“Knowing the Debra I know, she wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Patterson said. “Because she loved what she was doing. When you can die for what you love, that means you had the opportunity to live and enjoy your job.”

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