Orlando Police Chief John Mina was sure of himself standing before a crowd Monday afternoon – they were going to catch Markeith Loyd, the suspect in the killing of Master Sergeant Debra Clayton by firearm earlier in the day.
“It doesn’t matter where he goes,” Mina said. “We’ll track him to the ends of the Earth.”
Mina said they were currently searching for Loyd in the Brookside Apartments area, located at 3997 Rosewood Way in Orlando. He advised anyone who didn’t absolutely need to be there to leave the area, as there was a high police presence there as of the late afternoon.
He also disclosed more details about Clayton’s final hours.
According to Mina, Clayton had been on patrol when she was approached early Monday morning by a civilian who tipped her off about Loyd’s presence in the area.
As Loyd was wanted for the December killing of a pregnant woman, Clayton responded by going to the Walmart at the corner of Princeton Street and John Young Parkway where Loyd had been reportedly seen. She saw him and a short foot chase ensued.
It was when she yelled out “stop” that Loyd allegedly turned and fired at her. She was hit, but returned fire – although Mina said they don’t currently believe he was hit.
Loyd also hit another officer, Joe Castro, and wounded him as he fled.
From there, Loyd escaped and a manhunt ensued, which has been going on most of the day Monday.
Mina said the department’s current belief was that people had absolutely been helping Loyd evade capture – he was still wanted on the murder from December, after all.
“I believe people have been helping him all along,” he said. “If we find out who they are, we will criminally charge them.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called the day “incredibly difficult” for everyone and assured the public that “every available resource” was being used to bring Loyd to justice.
He said there was a $60,000 reward for any information given to Crimeline that could help locate and catch Loyd. Crimeline’s number is 800.423.TIPS.
Asked if he had a message for Loyd personally if he was watching, Mina responded that he did.
“He needs to turn himself in,” he said. “Not tonight, not tomorrow. Now. We want a peaceful resolution to this situation.”
Clayton was 42 years old and was hired by the Orlando Police Department in 1999. She was married and had one son. Mina also said she was extremely passionate about her work in the community, citing her efforts with programs like Parramore Kidz Zone and Dueling Dragons to help disenfranchised local youths.
“She grew up here,” he said. “She really cared about this community. She was always the first one to step up.”
Meanwhile, at the Walmart where she died, memorials were already being set up in the form of flowers.