ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Police Chief John Mina on Saturday posthumously promoted fallen Master Sgt. Debra Clayton to the rank of lieutenant.
Mina made the announcement during Clayton's funeral, which was held Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Orlando.
Clayton, 42, was shot and killed Monday outside a Walmart while trying to make contact with Markeith Loyd, who was wanted in the shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Loyd remains at large.
Friends and family members wept openly as they walked by the American-flag-draped open casket holding Clayton.
Before the service, four helicopters flew overhead outside and then one peeled away in what is known as a "missing man" formation.
"It's always hard when you lose someone, especially Sgt. Clayton. She used to supervise me before I became a sergeant, so it's a very hard day for me," an OPD officer said before the service. "She loved children ... she had a passion to make Orlando better."
"She's going to be missed but never forgotten," another officer said. "She loved helping people. She wanted to make a difference. We know she made a difference, and the rest of us will continue to try to live in her legacy."
Mina and U.S. Rep. Val Demings said Clayton read books to children at elementary schools, would clean the homes of elderly and was a motherly figure to young people lacking parental guidance.
“Sgt. Clayton's name will be added to the law enforcement memorial board, both here at home and in our nation's capital," said U.S. Rep. Val Demings, former Orlando police chief.
“It's no longer black lives or blue lives, it’s all lives that matter today," Pastor Rolous A. Frazier prayed at the start of the service.
Later, Mina described Clayton as a "great cop."
“She was dedicated to building trust between law enforcement and the community," Mina said. "She would urge the people to not give up on their police department."
Mina also said Clayton knew the importance of crisis intervention, and that starting this year, there will be an award presented in her honor at the Crisis Intervention Team annual banquet.
"Debra was a hero and gave her life for the community she loved," Mina said.
Demings said Clayton died doing what few people are brave enough to do.
“You see, Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was one of the good guys," Demings said. "To sum it all up, Debra Clayton was willing to do more than she was paid to do. That’s why I was so eager to promote her to sergeant during my first rounds of promotions."
Meanwhile, a funeral for Orange County Deputy Norman Lewis, who died in a crash during a manhunt for Loyd on Monday, is scheduled to take place Sunday.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers are still searching for Loyd, 41. The search expanded into Polk County on Friday.
A $100,000 reward is offered for information leading to Loyd’s arrest.
Anyone with information about Loyd is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS or 911. Authorities said Loyd should be considered armed and dangerous.
Crimeline told News 6 that it has received at least 1,000 tips in connection to Loyd's case, but the agency said it still needs the community's help finding Loyd.
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