The Orlando deputy killed in a motorcycle crash while searching for a suspected cop killer was remembered as a gentle giant and a consummate professional who just wanted to make a difference in the community he was sworn to protect, officials said.
Deputy First Class Norman Lewis was traveling on his motorcycle when he was struck by a motorist Monday, police said.
Lewis, who in March would have marked his 12-year anniversary with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was rushed to the hospital, but could not be saved. He was 35 years old.
"That million dollar smile. The consummate professional. That’s how we will remember our gentle giant DFC Norm Lewis. RIP,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote on Twitter, adding the beloved deputy’s nickname, “Big Norm.”
Lewis was an esteemed member of the OSCO Motors/DUI unit, having joined the department after graduating from the University of Central Florida, where he played football for the Knights.
"He stood for everything that was good in life," UCF Football Coach Mike Kruczek told the Orlando Sentinel.
Lewis was killed as a massive manhunt was underway for Markeith Loyd, who earlier in the day allegedly gunned down Orlando Police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton in a Walmart parking lot, cops said.
Clayton had attempted to approach Loyd, who was already wanted for the December 13 murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon.
Dixon's family told InsideEditon.com that she was killed two days after she ended their relationship.
When Clayton told Loyd to stop, the suspect, who was wearing a security vest, allegedly responded by firing at the 17-year veteran multiple times.
Backup arrived on the scene in 28 seconds and Clayton was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, but she could not be saved.
A GoFundMe page created on behalf of Clayton's family noted she "heroically fought for her life and unfortunately passed away at 7:40 a.m."
The 42-year-old woman, who was one of the first responders to arrive on scene during the June 12, 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, leaves behind a husband and one son, authorities said.
“She gave her life protecting the community she loved," OPD Chief John Mina said Monday.
Loyd remained at large on Tuesday, as area schools were ready to initiate lockdowns and authorities combed through the community for the man police have considered armed and dangerous.
Orange County Public Schools said in a statement it is working with law enforcement and that the situation is a fluid one.
"Schools may be placed and/or removed from lockdown as circumstances demand. School administrators have been communicating with parents and will continue to do so as the situation at their school warrants. We ask that parents continue to monitor updates that come to them from their child’s school and/or OCPS transportation through Connect Orange," OCPS said in a statement.
"Please note, these updates may be different from school to school based on law enforcement guidance," the statement continued. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Orlando Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and all law enforcement, as well as the families and colleagues of the fallen."
Anyone with information about Loyd’s whereabouts is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS or 911.
A $60,000 reward for information leading to Loyd’s capture had been announced through Crimeline Monday, as officials warned those who might be helping the suspect evade capture that they too were breaking the law.
"If you are assisting Markeith Loyd evade capture, you will be criminally charged. I can assure you, we will not rest until Markeith Loyd is behind bars," Mina said. "Markeith Loyd needs to turn himself in... he needs to call and turn himself in now."