ORLANDO, Fla. – Hundreds of law enforcement officers continue to search for a murder suspect who authorities said shot and killed an Orlando police officer on Monday.
[WATCH LIVE: News 6 team coverage | VIDEO AT TOP OF STORY: Manhunt continues]
Orlando police and Orange County sheriff's officials, along with state and federal authorities, are searching for Markeith Loyd, 41, who is accused of shooting Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton outside a Walmart on Princeton Street at John Young Parkway.
A reward of up to $60,000 is being offered for information leading to Loyd, who police believed was possibly hiding at Brookside Apartments near Cinderlane Parkway and Orange Blossom Trail.
"We're searching the whole area," said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who said several families had been removed from their homes because of the manhunt.
A heavy police presence was reported at the scene until about 6 p.m. when authorities left and residents were let back into the area. As of 10:40 p.m., Loyd had not been arrested.
SWAT officers had a perimeter set up around the apartment complex for several hours Monday afternoon. Officers were seen with large weapons going door to door and at several points appeared to be surrounding an apartment on the second floor.
Clayton was a wife, the mother of a son in college and a 17-year veteran of the police department, Orlando police Chief John Mina said.
“One of our heroes in blue was shot and killed in the line of duty," Mina said. "She will be deeply missed."
Mina said Clayton had been in her uniform, including department-issued body armor, when a citizen approached her and told her that Loyd was in the area. She had called in for backup and gone to approach Loyd, who was wearing a shirt that said "security" on it.
Clayton pursued Loyd on foot, and when she yelled for him to stop he shot her, Mina said. Clayton returned fire, but officials don't believe Loyd was shot or injured.
Backup officers arrived at the scene within 28 seconds, Mina said.
Clayton, 42, was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 7:40 a.m., officials said. The Orlando Police Department hired Clayton in 1999. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in public administration in 1998 and a master's degree in criminal justice in 2002.
Mina said during a press conference at 3:30 p.m. Monday that officials believe Loyd could have someone helping him hide. Regardless, Mina is confident that Loyd will be located soon.
“It doesn’t matter where he goes. We will track him down to the end of the earth," Mina said.
Meanwhile, a 35-year-old Orange County motorcycle deputy who was searching for Loyd after the shooting was struck by a car and killed, Demings said.
Demings described Deputy First Class Norman Lewis as a "gentle giant."
Another sheriff's motorcycle deputy and an Orlando police officer suffered minor injuries in separate crashes while responding to the call of officer down, officials said. Jerry Lewis Brown, the 36-year-old Orlando man who struck the deputy, was arrested for driving with a suspended license, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
"I'm declaring (Monday) an official day of mourning," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said Monday, which is national Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
Officials said that after Clayton was shot, an Orange County sheriff's deputy saw Loyd at North Lane and Pine Hills Drive. Loyd pulled into an apartment complex and opened fire at the deputy, twice striking his unmarked SUV, officials said. The deputy was not injured.
Loyd then carjacked a vehicle and took off, deputies said. He abandoned the vehicle near the intersection of Rosemont and Cinderlane Parkway, where a manhunt began, officials said.
Law enforcement officers swarmed the area, and Orlando police said motorists should avoid traveling to Pine Hills and Rosemont. Numerous officers were spotted carrying assault rifles at several intersections in the area.
Authorities said Loyd should be considered armed and dangerous.
"We are asking the public to assist us with his whereabouts," the Sheriff's Office said. "However, we ask the public not to approach him and call 911 instead."
"We're going to bring this dirtbag to justice, and he's going to jail," said Mina, who added that local, state and federal authorities are working to find Loyd.
The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today. One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words. pic.twitter.com/M48o1nnr4h— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) January 9, 2017
Demings said authorities are reasonably certain that Loyd is still in the area, and he warned that others should not try to help him.
“If you aid and abet this individual in any way, you will subject yourself to criminal charges,” Demings said.
Demings was asked what he would tell Loyd directly.
“The best thing he can do at this time is turn himself in. We would love to resolve this situation peacefully," Demings said. "If we have to go in after him … we cannot control what happens in that situation."
Anyone with information about Loyd's whereabouts is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.
"Just spoke to @ChiefJohnMina and am praying for @OrlandoPolice," Gov. Rick Scott tweeted. "I let him know the state stands ready to help in any way."
Loyd was initially wanted in connection in the slaying of Sade Dixon, who was shot and killed last month at a Pine Hills home. Dixon, a pregnant mother of two, was Loyd's ex-girlfriend, officials said.
Numerous Orange County public schools were locked down because of the manhunt, but the lockdowns were all lifted Monday afternoon.
- Evans High School
- Meadowbrook Middle School
- Orange Center Elementary School
- Pinewood Elementary School
- Positive Pathways Transition Center
- Rolling Hills Elementary School
- Riverside Elementary School
- Ridgewood Park Elementary School
- Robinswood Middle School
- Gateway School
- Pine Hills Elementary School
- Lockhart Elementary School
- Lockhart Middle School
- Acceleration Academy West
- Orange Virtual School
- Lake Silver Elementary School
- Esteem Academy
- Oak Hill Elementary School
- Rosemont Elementary School
Orange County Public Schools later released a statement:
“At OCPS, the safety of our students is our No. 1 priority. As we continue to work with law enforcement we want to assure parents and the community that all students and staff are safe and instruction has continued throughout the day. Authorities have indicated this is a fluid situation, and schools may be placed and/or removed from lockdown as circumstances demand. School administrators have been communicating with parents and will continue to do so as the situation at their school warrants. We ask that parents continue to monitor updates that come to them from their child’s school and/or OCPS transportation through Connect Orange. Please note, these updates may be different from school to school based on law enforcement guidance. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Orlando Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and all law enforcement, as well as the families and colleagues of the fallen."
Walmart later reopened, and company officials released a statement about the shooting.
"We’re heartbroken by the Orlando police officer’s and Orange County deputy’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with both departments for their losses.
"We’ll do everything we can to assist police and sheriff’s deputies. As details continue evolving, we’re referring all other questions to local police."
Clayton is the second U.S. officer killed in the line of duty this year, according to the Officer Down Memorial website.
Last year, 140 officers, including six women, were killed in the line of duty in the United States. Five were from Florida agencies, and 65 were killed by gunfire, the site said.
Law enforcement agencies and officials in Central Florida sent condolences to the Orlando Police Department after the shooting.
"I join Orlando & my @OrlandoPolice family in mourning the violent death of one of our own. COURAGE.PRIDE.COMMITMENT," tweeted U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the former Orlando police chief.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters at OPD," Kissimmee police tweeted.
"Our prayers are with @OrlandoPolice, Officer shot. Follow @OrlandoPolice for full and accurate updates," Lakeland police tweeted.
"The Lake County Sheriff's Office would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to our brothers and sisters at Orlando Police Department," LCSO tweeted.
"Prayers for @OrlandoPolice as they deal with an officer who has been shot and another officer on a motorcycle involved in a crash," Edgewood police tweeted.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in blue at the Orlando Police Dept. #ODP #orlando," Oviedo police tweeted.
"We are praying for the @OrlandoPolice officer shot this morning. We support you through this tragedy and senseless act of violence," Sanford police tweeted.
"Keeping our friends at @OrlandoPolice in our thoughts and hearts (Monday) morning," UCF police tweeted.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Orlando PD right now. We wish to offer our condolences to the department," the Sumter County Sheriff's Office tweeted.
"Thoughts and prayers for the Orlando Police Department Officers and their families," Titusville police tweeted.
"We stand with you at this most difficult time @OrlandoPolice @ChiefJohnMina @orange Our prayers are with you and your respective departments," West Melbourne police tweeted.
"Our hearts go out to the @OrlandoPolice Officer killed in the line of duty this morning. Godspeed," Edgewood police tweeted.
"Thoughts and prayers to the Orlando Police Department on the loss of Sergeant Debra Clayton. A hero remembered never dies #OrlandoPolice," Flagler Beach police tweeted.
"Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly and the men and women of our agency are deeply saddened at the loss of this Orlando Police officer," the Flagler County Sheriff's Office tweeted.
"We morn the loss of our brother and sister. Words can not begin to describe our sadness. We stand next to @OrlandoPolice @OrangeCoSheriff," the FHP tweeted.
Watch News 6 and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.