The man accused of fatally shooting an Orlando police officer has been taken into custody

By Harriet Sokmensuer
January 17, 2017 07:21 PM
Credit: Orlando Police Dept

The man accused of fatally shooting a police sergeant in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month — after she recognized him as the suspect in his pregnant girlfriend’s December death — has been taken into custody following a week-long manhunt.

Orlando police said Tuesday night that Markeith Loyd, 41, had been arrested. Additional details about his capture were not immediately available.

It was not clear if Loyd has entered a plea or retained an attorney.

On Jan. 9, Loyd allegedly shot Master Sgt. Debra Clayton in the parking lot of an Orlando Wal-Mart after she recognized him as a wanted man and tried to detain him, police have said.

Clayton, a 17-year veteran, died later in the hospital — triggering a large-scale search. A $125,000 reward was also offered for information leading to Loyd’s arrest.

Clayton worked weekend day-shift patrol and “will be missed beyond words,” the Orlando Police Department wrote in a tweet. “She always had a smile/high five 4 every kid she came across.”

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said soon after Clayton’s death that authorities had been “very aggressively looking for Markeith Loyd for the past couple of weeks” in connection with the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Sade Dixon, on Dec. 13.

Demings said he suspected Loyd was “receiving help from someone, and we’re calling upon sensible individuals to help us bring him to justice on this day.”

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton
| Credit: Orlando Police/Twitter

While assisting in Loyd’s manhunt, an 11-year sheriff’s veteran, Deputy First Class Norman Lewis, was also killed. His motorcycle was in a collision with another car, Demings said.

He said a motorist turned in front of Lewis’ vehicle, causing the crash. The motorist had a green light and “was not traveling at an inordinate rate of speed.”

Lewis died in the hospital from his injuries, Demings said. He was a former University of Central Florida football player and was honored by the team in a tweet.

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Police believe Loyd was aided while he evaded authorities who were investigating the deaths of Clayton and Dixon.

Multiple people, including one of Loyd’s relatives, have been arrested in connection with the search. Police allege that some of them helped hide Loyd from pursuit.