By MIKE SCHNEIDER
ORLANDO, Fla. — A massive manhunt was underway Monday in the popular tourist destination of Orlando as authorities searched for a man accused of shooting and killing a police officer.
The Orlando Police Department announced the death of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton on its official Twitter account Monday morning. A short time later, authorities said at a press conference that a second law enforcement officer was killed in a vehicle accident while searching for the suspect in Clayton’s killing.
The shooting occurred near a Walmart store in Orlando earlier Monday.
The suspect has been identified as Markeith Loyd, 41, in an area of northwest metro Orlando. Authorities said Loyd previously was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend last December.
“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” said Police Chief John Mina said at a press conference. “He will be brought to justice.”
Mina lauded Clayton, who was married and had two children, as a “committed” officer and “a hero” who gave her life to the community she loves.
Police released a video of Clayton’s body being taken out of the hospital to a waiting van in a flag-covered stretcher. A line of officers saluted as the stretcher was wheeled out.
Authorities said 17 area schools were placed in lockdown following the shooting.
Sheriff’s officials said Loyd was spotted by a deputy fleeing in the Orlando police officer’s 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.
The manhunt was being conducted where he abandoned the vehicle.
Gov. Rick Scott cancelled an appearance in Orlando because of the shooting.
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