Orlando Archives - Page 7 of 38 - Florida Politics

Women’s March in Orlando brings out hundreds standing up for civil rights and issues

Worldwide on Saturday afternoon, women and the men who stand with them marched and rallied against new President Donald Trump. Orlando’s march happened at Lake Eola’s Walt Disney Amphitheater, which filled with hundreds of people, covering every square inch of the park.

Over the loudspeakers, speakers spoke empowering messages of women’s rights and the need to stand up and protest.

The event, like others happening around the country and worldwide, was a reaction to the election of Trump, whose messages and statements on the campaign trail since 2015 have many people fearful about what he’ll do on the many issues they care about.

The crowd in Orlando was full of people milling around with shirts bearing slogans like ‘Feminist’ or ‘Nasty Woman’ as well as signs of protest, touting ‘Not My President,’ expressing messages of support for women’s reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act, LGBT issues, climate change and more. Some signs called for Trump’s impeachment.

“We wanted to come out and make sure our voices were heard,” said protester Robin Katz. “Protecting climate change, reproductive health, the rights of people of color… these should be the top issues.”

An older man calling himself Pippi Dreadstocking, with a long gray beard and a huge cardboard box with a sign proclaiming Trump to be “never his president,” stood by Rosalind Avenue, strikingly visible to passing motorists.

“I’m here in solidarity with the women of this planet,” he said. “I see this new leader as a threat to all life on this Earth as we know it. As a white man, it’s my job to support every other group attacked. It’s my duty as a citizen. If you do nothing, you’re complacent.”

Over the loudspeaker, the messages kept coming, a never-ending stream of them: “If women succeed, we all succeed,” one speaker triumphantly proclaimed.

But through all their messages they were unified in purpose.

“It’s about peace,” said protester Andrea Delph. “About being around others who share your values. With this new presidential year… I wanted to be here with all my women.”

Orlando is building the train station, not sure when or if trains will arrive

By the end of this year Orlando’s gleaming new $211 million train station should be virtually finished at Orlando International Airport, but it may be many years before trains start rolling in – if at all.

The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority is building a train station based on a vision of the future in which planes, trains, cars and buses all come together at what would be Florida’s tourism hub, with a people-mover tram connecting the station to the main air terminals, and a walkway to the next big air terminal GOAA plans to build next door. There also will be a new parking garage there.

In the vision, the planes would arrive from Sao Paulo, London, Frankfurt, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and elsewhere. The visitors move to the station from the main terminal on the people-mover trams, and then board 100-mph trains for South Florida, commuter trains to downtown Orlando and the rest of the SunRail corridor, or light-rail trains to the Orange County Convention Center and the glittery hotels and attractions of International Drive. Or they get off those planes and trains and board buses or taxis, or rental cars, to explore the world’s tourism Mecca of Central Florida.

Construction of the station, known in transportation-jargon as the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility, began with contracts and promises for multiple trains and the kind of widespread civic support for which Orlando’s big projects are known.

“We’re moving along. We expect the project to be substantially complete,” GOAA Executive Director Phil Brown said of the train station, the parking garage and the people mover. “We’ll probably be operational in the fall of 2017.”

But trains never come easily for Orlando.

Brightline, formerly known as All Aboard Florida, just unveiled its first train set in West Palm Beach, with assurances that it and 15 others should start rolling, full of passengers, between there and Fort Lauderdale and Miami, by year’s end. Brightline has even begun test runs with the train, on 9 miles of test tracks. The stations there are nearly done. The tracks are nearly all ready. The marketing program is gearing up. Brightline secured $600 million in financing for it all.

The real draw of Brightline, though, may be its future connection from there to the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility at Orlando International Airport. With that, the state’s two biggest tourism centers could become an easy, two-day, two-attraction ticket. In addition to Orlando visitors heading south, South Florida visitors could head north.

There’s a place for Brightline at the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility.

Brightline has all the track corridor it needs from Palm Beach to Cocoa, has signed contracts with GOAA and the Central Florida Expressway Authority to obtain the corridors needed from there to the Orlando Intermodel Transportation Facility, and has spent at least $90 million on right of way. The company’s environmental impact statement is essentially done, and most of its permits are acquired. Planning, design and engineering work for the final track segments have begun.

Yet Brightline’s track from Palm Beach to Orlando is snarled in opposition and litigation. County and local leaders of Florida’s Treasure Coast want no part of being ride-over territory for trains traveling more than 100 mph through their scores of at-grade intersections and bridging their environmentally-sensitive rivers, canals and wetlands.

Last year Martin and Indian River counties sued in U.S. District Court and won some key preliminary decisions. Brightline’s financing was locked up. So, this past fall the company filed to split its funding plan, severing the $1 billion or so worth of tax-exempt bonds it needs for the controversial Orlando-Palm Beach portion from the rest, in case that portion never comes together. For the moment, that money is gone.

The lawsuit continues, as do other challenges, including to the environmental statement, and the permits Brightline has received from the South Florida Water Management District.

Brightline remains undaunted, though.

“We are committed to extending Brightline to Orlando, and we are exploring financing options for Phase 2,” spokeswoman Ali Soule said.

Initially, back when GOAA and All Aboard Florida reached their first agreements and the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility was green-lighted, the plan was for the first Brightline train to arrive at the airport this year. This year became the completion target for Orlando’s station.

Now, no specific timetables are being offered for the Brightline trains, not even ballparks, not even to GOAA officials.

The first rail of track has not been installed yet nor have any of the needed five bridges been built in the 38 miles between Cocoa and Orlando. The company also has to double-track the rest of the route, and the first rail of new track has not yet been laid, nor any of the 18 bridges upgraded, in the 129 miles between Cocoa and Palm Beach. All of that must be built after the lawsuits wrap up, and after new financing is secured.

“I think we anticipate there may be a delay from when we had originally anticipated they would be completed the same time we would be completed,” Brown said. “I don’t think that’s realistic now. But not having ever built a railroad, I wouldn’t want to suggest how they do that.”

Yet Brightline might wind up being the airport’s best train option for the foreseeable future.

The aviation authority, Orlando, Orange County, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the expressway authority also have been talking for years to a group including, at various times, the Spanish train company Globalvia, Florida EMMI LLC of Orlando, and American MagLev Technologies of Marietta, Georgia, for a magnetic-letivation train or, in more recent proposals, a light-rail train, to connect the airport with the Orange County Convention Center and International Drive.

There once was talk of the train starting service to the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility next year. But now GOAA officials are not looking for the proposed $560 million, private-planned, -financed, -developed and -operated train anytime soon.

“I don’t think the light rail project, if it goes forward, will be in there any sooner than 2021,” Brown said.

For now, there is disagreement about how welcome it is at the airport. GOAA officials don’t see the train as adding anything for the airport, only supplanting existing transportation: taxis, buses and rental cars. That trio provides significant fee revenue to the airport, so GOAA officials want the train companies to agree to replace those fees.

“They have issues with it, and they are contemplating how that works in with their feasibility,” Brown said.

American MagLev and EMMI already had negotiated a right of way lease along State Road 528 with the Florida Department of Transportation for just over 60 percent of the proposed corridor it needs. But the option has not been exercised and may be in trouble.

Tony Morris, president of American MagLev and manager of Florida EMMI, insisted in an email to FloridaPolitics.com that talks with the government agencies are ongoing and well, and he expects to wrap them up early this year.

“We spent all of 2015 and 2016 negotiating with the local stakeholders, for a project that we are paying 100 percent of the costs. That phase took two years longer than expected, but we think we are finishing that up now, hopefully in the next 60 days. When these agreements are done, we can then do the easy part, which is to build it,” Morris wrote. “The land is 100 percent in the public domain… This is a big advantage.”

The right of way lease option was to have expired at the beginning of this year because the companies had not met required conditions demanded by FDOT, and the department reluctantly extended it six months. But only six months. “No further extension will be granted,” FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold wrote earlier this month to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and GOAA Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher, who all are on the GOAA board.

Those Orlando-area leaders had advised Boxold, in December, that their talks with the company were leading to other potential alignments. Boxold responded sternly in his Jan. 3 letter, stating that fundamental changes in alignment would not be consistent with “the terms of the EMMI proposal or the negotiated escrowed lease.”

“If the proposal by EMMI to establish a maglev system along State Road 528 does not reach fruition, we will be happy to discuss other concepts you may have for establishing that connection,” Boxold advised the Orlando leaders.

Then there is SunRail, Orlando’s commuter train, run by the Florida Department of Transportation, which operates on a north-south line that runs from DeBary in Volusia County, through downtown Orlando, to Sand Lake Road in south Orange County.

The next phase is an extension of that line southward into Osceola County, through Kissimmee, to Poinciana. That leg is to be finished late this year. The next phase after that was to be an extension of the line northward to Deland, though that died with opposition from U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, whose district includes Deland.

The phase after that was to be a new line running eastward, to Orlando International Airport.

There’s a place for SunRail at the Orlando Intermodal Transportation Facility.

No firm plans, timetables or alignments ever have been announced, though.

The Florida Department of Transportation is still studying the prospect, and it has no federal funding, which was envisioned to pay for most of it. The region’s transportation planning agency, MetroPlan Orlando, now programs federal construction money for the airport SunRail line to become available no sooner than 2020. Another MetroPlan projection has the project completed in 2016, noting that $153 million of the estimated $195 million cost is unidentified.

“Currently, study continues to examine which modes of transport, from SunRail Phase 2 to the airport, would be most efficient, cost feasible, and would qualify to be federally funded in part, as well as meet the needs of the community,” FDOT District 5 public information specialist Jen Horton stated in an email. “Once that additional study/work is complete, the plan would be presented to the public in the form of a public hearing.”

The trains lost crucial support in Congress when two highly committed and active backers, U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville and John Mica of Winter Park, both lost re-election bids last year. Brown had served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, while Mica was a former chairman of that committee with considerable influence at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Both had close ties to both SunRail and Brightline.

In their place, newly-elected U.S. Rep. Brian Mast was given a seat on the transportation committee last week. Mast, a Republican whose Florida’s 18th Congressional District includes the Treasure Coast counties of Indian River and Martin, is “100 percent against” Brightline running through his district from Palm Beach to Orlando, said Mast’s communication director Brad Stewart.

Nonetheless, Orlando airport officials are pushing forward. They do have some financial security. Most of the station was paid for with state transportation grants, and they have a $10 million line of credit from Brightline, provided to help amortize the $52 million in bonds.

Though it is already clear the train station will open without trains, and may stay that way for years, it still will have some use, Phil Brown said.

“We will be using the people mover system … We’ll have a parking garage down there. That clearly will be operational as well, because we, on a regular basis in the last several months, we’ve had to shut down the structured parking at the airport because it’s full. We have a need for more parking,” he said.

Florida unemployment rate holds steady at 4.9% in December

Florida’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in December, holding steady at 4.9 percent for the second month in a row.

State officials, however, touted gains made in 2016, boasting Florida businesses created 237,300 private sector jobs in 2016.

“Over the last six years, we’ve worked each day to make it easier for job creators to invest and create new opportunities in our state, and we will continue to do everything we can to help Florida out compete other locations as the best place for jobs,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement.

Scott typically makes the monthly jobs announcement during a press conference, but the Naples Republican was in Washington, D.C. on Friday for the inauguration of Donald Trump.

“Today, as we proudly welcome a new president who will make job creation a top priority across our nation, we stand ready to fight for another great year of economic growth in Florida,” he said.

According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s job growth has exceeded the nation’s rate since 2012. The agency reported December was the 77th consecutive month with “positive over-the-year growth.”

The leisure and hospitality industry continues to make the most gains, growing by 4.6 percent year-over-year.

“With more than 250,000 job openings across the state and more than 1.25 million new private-sector jobs created in the last six years, it’s clear Florida is a great place to find a good job,” said Cissy Proctor, the executive director of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, in a statement. “Our low unemployment rate and strong record of job creation prove Florida is a great state to do business.”

The majority of the state’s 24 metro areas saw gains in December compared to the same time in 2015. The Orlando metropolitan area once again led the state in private sector job growth, adding 48,300 new private sector jobs in 2016.

The Orlando area’s leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest job growth over the year, adding 16,000 new jobs over the year; followed by education and health services with 10,200 new jobs; and construction with 9,7000 new jobs.

The Orlando area, according to the Governor’s Office, had the second-highest job demand of all the metro areas in December. It also had the second highest demand for high-skill, high-wage jobs.

“As job creators continue to grow in Central Florida and all across our state, we are seeing more and more families find the opportunities they need to succeed,” said Scott in a statement. “We will keep working to build on this success and make Florida first for jobs.”

The Tampa area added 29,100 new private sector jobs in 2016, and had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in December. The construction industry saw the most growth over the year, adding 8,400 new jobs; followed by professional and business services with 6,700 new jobs; and trade, transportation and utilities with 4,900 new jobs. The Tampa area led the state in demand for high-skill, high-wage STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) occupations in December.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville added 22,800 private sector jobs in 2016 and had a unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in December.

At first court appearance, Markeith Loyd goes on expletive-filled rant about death of girlfriend

Murder suspect Markeith Loyd appeared in court early Thursday morning for an arraignment hearing, at which he went on a profanity-laced rant aimed at the accusations against him.

The judge has also ordered Loyd held without bond.

According to the Ninth Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney’s office, Loyd does not yet have an attorney representing him. He said in court Thursday that he’d be representing himself in the trial.

The hearing was only for his alleged killing of his girlfriend, Sade Dixon, and her unborn child, in December of 2016 – he hasn’t yet been charged in the killing of Master Sergeant Debra Clayton that spurned the nine-day, widely-covered manhunt that ended earlier this week.

At the hearing, Loyd was initially quiet, WFTV reports – answering questions with a “yes” or “no.”

But then he started to open up.

He said he was “defending himself” when Dixon was shot and killed, WFTV reports.

“Ya’ll just making (expletive) up,” he said. “You’re acting like I just went down there and shot that girl.”

“Her little brother got dropped off while we were just there talking.”

The judge warned him that everything he was saying was on the record, but he did not stop. As he left the courtroom, he spat a curse at her.

Rick Scott to host jobs summit in Orlando

Gov. Rick Scott will focus on jobs during a summit in Orlando next month.

Scott is scheduled to host a jobs summit on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, according to an online invitation. The event, which was first reported by POLITICO Florida, appears to be similar to an education summit the Naples Republican hosted in 2016.

According to the invitation, the event will bring together “Florida’s top business leaders, economic developers, educators and community leaders” to discuss ways to “shape the future of Florida’s economy to create good, high-paying jobs for all Florida families.”

Scott first mentioned his plans for an economic conference back in September.

“I will be hosting an economic summit with economic development leaders and job creators from across the state to discuss how we can bring even more opportunities to Florida. Florida undoubtedly has a lot to offer to out-compete other states for jobs wins,” he said in a Sept. 29 statement. “Our business climate, low taxes, education system, workforce, transportation infrastructure and even the weather are all variables that companies look at when considering locations to move or expand. But, we cannot lose sight that economic incentives are an important part of this toolkit.”

The summit comes just one month before the start of the annual 60-day Legislative Session, where economic development and job growth is expected to take center stage. Last year, Scott said he would request $85 million for economic incentives to bring jobs to Florida.

While Scott is a supporter of incentives, he’ll face opposition in the Florida House. The House blocked an effort to create a dedicated funding source for incentives during the 2016 legislative session, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran has said he does not support incentives.


Wife of Pulse shooter arrested in California

The wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter, who was extensively questioned by federal agents in the days after the massacre, has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the attack, authorities said Monday.

Noor Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in the San Francisco Bay area and is facing charges in Florida including obstruction of justice. A Twitter post from the United States attorney’s office in Orlando said Salman will make her initial court appearance Tuesday morning in Oakland, California.

Noor Salman moved to California after her husband, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members during the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

FBI agents repeatedly questioned Salman in the aftermath of the shooting about whether she had advance knowledge of her husband’s plans. Salman told The New York Times in an interview published last fall that she knew her husband had watched jihadist videos but that she was “unaware of everything” regarding his intent to shoot up the club. She also said he had physically abused her.

“Noor Salman had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night,” her attorney, Linda Moreno, said in a statement.

“Noor has told her story of abuse at his hands. We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person,” Moreno said.

Mateen was the only shooter, and by the time a three-hour standoff with law enforcement had ended, 49 patrons were killed and another 53 people required hospitalization.

Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call to emergency officials during the standoff. He also made a series of Facebook posts and searches before and during the attack.

Salman, who grew up northeast of San Francisco, wed Mateen in 2011 after the two met online. They lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, at the time of the shooting. Last month, Salman filed a petition in a California court to change the name of the son she had with Mateen.

“We said from the beginning, we were going to look at every aspect of this, of every aspect of this shooter’s life to determine not just why did he take these actions — but who else knew about them? Was anyone else involved?” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in an MSNBC interview on Monday.

The Times first reported on the arrest.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement that Salman was facing accusations of obstruction of justice and “aiding and abetting by providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.”

“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Mina said. “But today, there is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hoped the arrest “provides some comfort to the families who are mourning their loved ones,” he added.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Dwight Bullard talks of Democrats the party has ignored

Not counting the fact that he’s running from Gadsden County, little about Dwight Bullard is any mystery to many Florida Democrats who’ll be gathering in Orlando this weekend to consider electing him or one of four other candidates as the new state party chairman.

“People know exactly where I stand,” said Bullard, the former Florida senator and representative from South Florida, whose parents Edward and Larcenia also served in the house or senate, or both, in a family dynasty that lasted in South Florida from 1992 until Dwight Bullard’s defeat for election in a newly-drawn district last fall.

Bullard, the Gadsden County Democratic state committeeman, faces Osceola County Democratic Chair Leah Carvius, Miami-Dade County Democratic State Committeeman Stephen Bittel, Duval County Democratic Chair Lisa King, and Bradford County Democratic State Committeeman Alan Clendenin. The Florida Democratic Party leadership will gather in Orlando this weekend to pick one of them to be the new chair, to replace Allison Tant, who is stepping down.

“Most Democrats that I talk to will applaud me saying ‘You were great in the Legislature. You fought for what we need to fight for,'” Bullard said. “While my detractors will say, ‘Well, that’s not necessarily what we need in a DEP chair,’ while my supporters will say, ‘That’s exactly what we need in our DEP chair.'”

Bullard said he wants to stand with those he says the party has forgotten, the disaffected voters who don’t think the party talks to them, but rather at them. The ones who don’t go to Democratic executive committee party meetings, or Democratic club meetings, or events. They’re just out there, he said.

“It’s really best classified as the ignored Democrats, or the Democrats that don’t want to be caught up in the formal structure of the party,” Bullard said. “I know the party infrastructure and the mechanics in which we operate, working with the DECs and the clubs. But the reality is we often times talk about having more registered Democrats than our counterparts, but they are not the persons in the outcome of the elections. A lot of it has to do with us never having really outreached to those folks, showing them why they should spend that 20 minutes every two years voting for Democrats.”

The bottom line, he said is, Democrats have held a solid edge in voter registrations yet lose time and time again in statewide races. He said it is an embarrassment for the party, and the party hasn’t seemed to recognize it. The problem he said, is that party insiders decide on the “prototypical candidate” without finding out what ordinary Democrats want or don’t want. That has created a chasm between the voters and the party, he said.

“You’ve got a grand canyon or sinkhole opening in your back yard but you’re still having a cocktail party like nothing’s going on back there,” he said. “The key for the party is: stand for something. It doesn’t have to be one single, central message, but be aware of people out there in the everyday. We know things like the environment are important. We know things like income inequality and the environment are important. But when it comes to key issues, we’re not affectively at the forefront of addressing those issues as a party.”

In many ways, Bullard’s failure this fall to stay in the Florida Senate reflected the divide in the party. Ultimately he lost Florida’s newly-drawn Senate District 40 [not really the district he and his mother had represented] to Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles, a veteran state representative with a lot of support and money. But Bullard didn’t get to the general election until he’d survived a bloody Democratic primary fight with Andrew Korge, who pounded him with advertising painting Bullard as being out of step with some fundament issues, most notably with his less-than-absolute support for Israel. [Bullard says he’s a strong supporter of Israel but also feels support must be offered for displaced Palestinians] Ultimately that primary battle was characterized as a classic progressive Democrat, Bullard, versus a more moderate, more establishment Democrat, and Bullard won the primary.

Then there is that Gadsden representation. Bullard is from Miami-Dade. It has been his home and his base his whole career. But he lost a contentious battle for that county’s state committeeman post to Bittel. So Bullard, who has a home in Gadsden, moved there, ran there, and won that county’s post, earning the necessary credential to run statewide. He’s not alone. Clendenin did the same thing, moving from Hillsborough County to Bradford when he couldn’t win a hometown post. And others in the past, including Tant, have done the same.

“The rules are antiquated,” he said. “I think all five of us have talked about that has been the case… the system needs to end.”

Stephanie Murphy sets listening tour in her new district

Newly-sworn in U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is coming back to Central Florida to ask constituents for their guidance.

The Democrat from Winter Park, who entered Congress last week after defeating the district’s 12-term incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in November, announced Wednesday she is setting up three town hall-style listening meetings next week, in Orlando, Sanford and Altamonte Springs.

“U.S. representative is more than just a title; it’s a job description,” she stated in a news release. “If you’re truly going to represent people, you’ve got to listen to them. I’m hosting these listening sessions so that my constituents may come share their ideas, thoughts and concerns as the new Congress begins. I’ll take the information from these sessions and use it to set my priorities and guide my work fighting for central Florida in our nation’s capital. I encourage anyone who lives in Florida’s Seventh District to join us and make their voices heard.”

Murphy represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District, which includes all of Seminole County and much of northern Orange County, including downtown Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, and the University of Central Florida.

The sessions will be held next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Boone High School in Orlando; Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Center in Sanford; and Jan. 19 at the Eastmonte Civic Center in Altamonte Springs. All are open to the public, but anyone wishing to speak will be asked to fill out comment cards. Constituents who cannot attend are advised to send their thoughts to her office at StephanieMurphy.house.gov or by calling 1-888-205-5421.

Marco Rubio mourns Orlando officers killed, calls for law enforcement respect ‘every day’

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, in the wake of the deaths of two law enforcement officials in Orlando on Monday, condemned the violence and mourned Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy killed.

“Sergeant Clayton leaves behind a husband and two children, and her murderer must be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “During this heartbreaking time, we honor the memory of these officers and their dedication to public service, and will keep their families and colleagues in our prayers.”

He also spoke of the wider problem of police being killed.

“With so much violence directed at police officers in recent months, including deadly ambush-style attacks, it’s important to support the men and women who serve and protect their fellow citizens. Today happens to be Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and as we honor the Thin Blue Line, let’s always remember that they put on the uniform every day with the realization that they may not come home.”

The selflessness and bravery of those who work in law enforcement, Rubio said, deserves recognition and support “not just today, but every day.”

Sen. Bill Nelson also issued a statement Monday afternoon, in which he offered somber condolences to law enforcement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the two Orlando-area police officers killed in the line of duty today,” he said. “The brave men and women who serve in our nation’s law enforcement community put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their service and we join them as they mourn the loss of their colleagues.”

Buddy Dyer calls for ‘day of mourning’ after officer deaths

Two law enforcement officials were killed on Monday morning – Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton as well as an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy in a motorcycle crash while pursuing Loyd in a chase afterwards.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has said today shall be a “day of mourning.”

“[Debra Clayton’s] death and her injuries, the death of the deputy sheriff and the injuries to Deputy Castro are a reminder that our law enforcement put their lives on the line every single day to protect you and me,” he writes. “To the men and women of OPD, I and the entire City Council, stand with you and are here to support you during this difficult time.”

In what’s being called a “tragic irony,” the shooting of both officers Monday morning occurred on what is known as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Clayton was shot near a Walmart earlier on Monday.

The man suspected in the shooting, Markeith Loyd, is also wanted for the murder of a pregnant woman last December, according to the OPD on Twitter.

Loyd was still at large late Monday morning. There is a $60,000 reward for any information on him or his whereabouts that leads to his capture, though law enforcement makes it clear that civilians shouldn’t approach him – he’s armed and dangerous.

Those with information on Loyd’s whereabouts are encouraged to call 9-1-1 or Crimeline at 800.423.TIPS.

Sheriff Jerry Demings said there won’t be any leeway for those found to be helping Loyd.

“We have a unified command with local and state assets,” he said, according to the OCSO Twitter. “If you aid and abet Loyd, you will be charged with a crime.”

Police Chief John Mina called Clayton “deeply committed to the community,” and said they were helping her family – a husband and two children – with everything they needed.

“I worked with her for 17 years,” he said. “She was deeply committed to this community. She gave her life protecting the community she loved.”

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the community’s collective hearts broke for the loss of Clayton and the deputy.

“The death of any law enforcement officer is an utter tragedy and a blow to the entire community,” she said. “We will stand with all of Central Florida and the nation in paying tribute to the service and courage of this dedicated officer.”

Sen. Randolph Bracy said the killings, as well as that of the pregnant woman last December, had only strengthened his resolve to work hard for criminal justice reform and gun control in the Senate.

“I condemn this violence and I will work hard as the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman to reform our laws, to make it harder for criminals to have access to high powered and illegal weapons in our communities,” he said. “The alleged shooter in this case is linked to another murder in the area of Pine Hills at the end of last year, underlining the need for urgent changes to stop more bloodshed. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and colleagues of the slain Orlando Police Department officer involved in this tragic event.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for prosecution of the killer to the “fullest extent of the law.”

State Rep. Kamia Brown also mourned for Clayton.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton during this difficult time,” she said. “She was a wife and a mother of two who served with the Orlando Police Department for 17 years. Her love to serve her community will be greatly missed.”

Sen. Victor Torres called Monday “a day of tremendous sadness” because of the two police killings.

“As a former New York City Transit Police Officer and lifelong public servant, I strongly condemn this violent act and I, too, pledge to work tirelessly to reform our laws, and end the ease with which hardened criminals can access high powered weapons,” he said. “We owe at least this much to Sergeant Debra Clayton, and every other law enforcement officer who has made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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