Port Charlotte High grad killed after Orlando officer-involved shooting

Author: AP
Published: Updated:
Deputy First Class Norman Lewis

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A graduate of Port Charlotte High School was one of two Orlando-area law enforcement officers killed Monday, the school district confirms.

Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy First Class Norman Lewis was killed in a motorcycle crash while responding to a massive manhunt for the suspect.

An Orlando police sergeant was shot and killed earlier Monday after approaching the suspect, who was wanted for questioning in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

Markeith DaMangzlo Loyd / Twitter via Orlando Police Department
Markeith DaMangzlo Loyd (Photo via the Orlando Police Department)

More than a dozen schools were placed in lockdown during the manhunt, and authorities were offering a $60,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Markeith Loyd, the 41-year-old suspect wanted for the murder of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton.

Officers and deputies focused their manhunt on an apartment complex in northwest Orlando, and dozens of residences had been searched. Residents who were evacuated from their homes sat on a sidewalk along a street with heavily armed officers and deputies and a parked SWAT team truck.

Clayton, 42, was killed outside a Wal-Mart store in northwest Orlando early Monday.

Another Orlando police officer also was involved in a crash while responding to the shooting but only had minor injuries.

Authorities said Loyd previously was a suspect in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend last December.

“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” Police Chief John Mina said at a morning press conference. Later in the day, the chief said, “It doesn’t matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth.”

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said deputies had been searching unsuccessfully for Loyd for several weeks and believe he was receiving help from someone.

At an afternoon news conference, Demings urged Loyd to turn himself in peacefully.

“If we have to go in after him, then that jeopardizes and puts at risk the safety of law enforcement officers … and we cannot control what happens in that situation,” Demings said.

Remembering ‘Big Norm’

Lewis played football at Port Charlotte High prior to his graduation in 2000 and at the University of Central Florida, where was an offensive lineman from 2000-03. He graduated from UCF in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

He had been with the police department for 11 years.

Many people knew him simply as “Big Norm.” Michael Riley, who was Lewis’ assistant principal in elementary school, said he made an indelible impression.

“He was a very kind and gentle soul,” Riley said. “Even as a kid, he was almost like an old soul almost. I just loved him. Everybody did.”

Lewis traveled home to Port Charlotte nearly every weekend to visit and help his parents.

“Quite honestly, I don’t know what they will do without him,” said Deeana Atkinson, who lives near his parents. “He was just that much a part of their life.”

A ‘hero’ lost

Debra Clayton
Debra Clayton

Mina lauded Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the force as a “committed” officer and “a hero” who gave her life to the community she loves. The Orlando Police Department said in a tweet that Clayton always had a smile and a high five for every child she came across.

Clayton had grown up in the Orlando area and was active in programs that mentored young people, Mina said.

“She was always the first to step up and help kids,” the chief said.

Clayton was a supervisor for a patrol division in the neighborhood where she was shot, and she previously had worked in investigations and as a school resource officer, said Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon.

“She made a point, even outside her working hours, do to things for youth and do things for the community,” Rolon said.

She was married and had a college-aged son. She died Monday at 7:40 a.m., less than an hour after she was shot while on duty.

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.

City reacts

Authorities said 17 area schools were placed in lockdown following the shooting.

The apartment complex that was the focus of the manhunt and shooting in northwest Orlando was nowhere near Orlando’s tourism corridor in the southern part of the metro area.

“There will be a large law enforcement presence in that area until we can determine he is not there,” Mina said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a day of mourning in the city.

While at the Wal-Mart Monday morning, Clayton was tipped off by someone that Loyd was in the area. When she approached him, he fired multiple shots at Clayton, who was wearing body armor, Mina said.

Clayton returned fire but didn’t hit him, he said.

Sheriff’s officials said a deputy spotted Loyd fleeing in a 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.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy was killed more than two hours after the shooting when a van collided with his motorcycle as he responded to the manhunt, authorities said.

Gov. Rick Scott cancelled an appearance in Orlando because of the shooting but appeared with Orlando officials at the news conference.

“I’m heartbroken and angry,” Scott said.

The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today. One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words. pic.twitter.com/M48o1nnr4h

— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) January 9, 2017

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