A man wanted for fatally shooting a police officer outside a Florida Walmart Monday was already on the run after allegedly murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend days after she ended their relationship, authorities said.
A concerned citizen told Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, 42, a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department, that they had seen Markeith DaMangzlo Loyd, 41, in a parking lot at Walmart on Princeton Street, west of John Young Parkway at about 7:15 a.m., cops said.
Clayton approached Loyd, who witnesses said was wearing a security vest, and told him to stop, to which he allegedly responded by firing at the officer multiple times, authorities said.
“I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down,” witness James Herman told WFTV.
Backup arrived on the scene within 28 seconds, during which time Clayton was able to return fire. Loyd was not believed to have been hit, officials said.
Clayton was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center, but she could not be saved and died at 7:40 a.m. on what had been declared across the country as National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
She leaves behind a husband and a child, a son who is in college, officials said.
“The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today. One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words,” the OPD tweeted at about 10:10 a.m.
The department’s words were accompanied by a video showing police officers outside the hospital standing at attention and saluting as a coffin, draped in an American flag, was carried out.
"She was extremely committed to our youth and really, the community," Orlando Police Chief John Mina said at a press conference on Monday, noting she independently organized several marches against violence for the community that she herself had grown up in.
"She gave her life protecting the community she loved," Mina said.
Declaring the day an official day of mourning in the city of Orlando, Mayor Buddy Dyer said: "Her death and her injuries... are a reminder that our law enforcement put their lives on the line every single day to protect you and I."
Loyd was spotted fleeing the scene and fired at a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, striking the deputy’s SUV twice — but missing the officer — before carjacking a vehicle and fleeing again, the OCSO said.
That vehicle was found abandoned near the intersection of Rosemont and Cinderlane Parkway, authorities said.
A massive manhunt for Loyd was underway, as law enforcement officials from numerous departments banded together to search the Brookside apartments and surrounding areas for the man they described as armed and extremely dangerous.
It was during the attempt to join that search that an OCSO deputy was killed in a motorcycle crash, officials said.
Calling Monday one of the toughest days in his 36-year career, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said authorities would not release the deputy's identity until his family, which is not from the area, was notified of his death.
"We’re sad on this day, for many reasons," said Demings, who knew Clayton personally, having hired her to the force when he served as chief of the OPD.
"Allow us some space to be able to do our jobs safely and to bring this individual into custody," Demings said of Loyd.
Loyd was already on the run after allegedly gunning down his pregnant ex-girlfriend, 24-year-old Sade Dixon, after she agreed to speak with him outside her family’s Lockhart home on December 13, authorities said.
The mother of two young boys had been three months pregnant with Loyd’s child when he allegedly killed her.
“He came here with the intent to kill my daughter. He had the gun. My daughter didn’t deserve to die, she didn’t deserve this,” Dixon’s mother, Stephanie Dixon-Daniels, told InsideEdition.com at the time.
He also allegedly shot Dixon’s 26-year-old brother, Ronald Steward, who ran outside to protect his sister, their mother said.
Steward was rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center with five gunshot wounds, underwent surgery and is now in stable condition.
“Why would you bring this violence to my neighborhood?” Dixon-Daniels asked her daughter’s alleged killer. “You killed her unborn child, which was your child that she was carrying. You deserve to rot in hell. Turn yourself in.”
Loyd has an extensive criminal record, including convictions for first-degree battery and battery on a law enforcement officer. He has been arrested 20 times in Orange County since 1994, records show.
Believing that Loyd is receiving help from someone in the area, Demings said: "We’re calling upon sensible individuals to help us by bringing him to justice on this day."
OPD Chief Mina echoed Demings' sentiments, saying at a later press conference: "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.
"Markeith Loyd needs to turn himself in... he needs to call and turn himself in now," he said.
Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact law enforcement, but officials urged anyone who spots Loyd not to approach him and call 911 instead.
A reward of $60,000 has been offered for information leading to Loyd’s capture. Anyone with information on Loyd's whereabouts is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS.