Reward up to $100,000 for man accused of killing Orlando officer

Sgt. Debra Clayton shot to death; Deputy Morgan Lewis died in related crash

Markeith Loyd
Markeith Loyd

ORLANDO, Fla. – The reward for information leading to the arrest of a man accused in the shooting death of an Orlando police sergeant and wanted for allegedly killing a pregnant woman was increased to $100,000 on Tuesday.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina announced at a news conference that the reward is being raised from $60,000 to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of 41-year-old Markeith Loyd. Authorities also said that arrests warrants are being prepared for people who may have helped Loyd elude deputies, who have sought to question him in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was killed Monday morning when she approached Loyd in a Walmart parking lot.

Authorities said they have received 300 tips from the public, but Loyd remains on the loose.

The manhunt itself has led to the death of Orange County Sheriff's Office Deputy 1st Class Norman Lewis in a traffic accident and the injury of another officer.

Authorities said Loyd previously was a suspect in the killing of his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December. A massive manhunt involving hundreds of officers was conducted all day Monday as they searched for Loyd in dozens of homes, displacing some residents of a northwest Orlando apartment complex and tying up traffic.

"He should be considered armed and dangerous," Police Chief John Mina said. Later in the day, the chief said, "It doesn't matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth."

Court records show Loyd was arrested in 1996 on a murder charge that was later dropped. Loyd was arrested for battery on an officer in 1998 and sentenced to more than four years in prison. While in prison he was detained on federal drug charges, pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and was transferred to federal prison.

Records show Loyd was released in July 2014.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said deputies had been searching unsuccessfully for Loyd for several weeks since the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and believe he was receiving help from someone.

While at the Walmart on Monday morning, Clayton was tipped off by someone that Loyd was in the area. When she approached him, he fired multiple shots at Clayton, who returned fire but didn't hit him. She was wearing body armor, but was hit multiple times.

Sheriff's officials said a deputy spotted Loyd fleeing in a vehicle. The suspect pulled into a nearby apartment complex and then fired at a deputy, striking the deputy's SUV twice. The deputy wasn't harmed, the sheriff's office said.

Loyd then carjacked another vehicle, drove away and then abandoned the vehicle not far away, according to the sheriff's office.

Remembering the fallen

The deaths left Orlando's law enforcement community in mourning. Clayton's patrol SUV was displayed in front of Orlando Police headquarters Tuesday morning. The police department also started an online fund to raise money for her family.

In the Walmart parking lot Tuesday morning, shoppers laid more than two dozen bouquets of flowers, teddy bears and candles in a makeshift memorial. Some shoppers, like Hal Shore, stopped to say a prayer or take a photo.

"It's important that the country is aware that there is a war against police officers," said Shore, a cabinet maker.

Mina lauded Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the force,  as a committed officer and a hero who gave her life to the community she loves. 

The Orlando Police Department said in a tweet that Clayton always had a smile and a high five for every child she came across.

Clayton had grown up in the Orlando area and was active in programs that mentored young people.

"She was always the first to step up and help kids," Mina said.

Clayton was a supervisor for a patrol division in the neighborhood where she was shot, and she previously had worked in investigations and as a school resource officer, Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon said.

"She made a point, even outside her working hours, to do things for youth and do things for the community," Rolon said.

She was married and had a college-age son.

Her funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Orlando.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a day of mourning in the city.

Demings described the 35-year-old Lewis as "a gentle giant," and the sheriff's office said he had played football for the University of Central Florida before joining the agency 11 years ago.

Lewis' funeral will held at 11 a.m. Friday, also at the First Baptist Church of Orlando. There will be a separate service later in Port Charlotte, which is Lewis' hometown.