Orlando, FL - Over 5,000 people gathered to pay their respects to fallen Orlando Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton who was laid to rest on January 14th, 2017. During a beautiful service, she was posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and given a standing ovation. As thousands mourned the loss of a servant to their community, the manhunt for her brutal killer continues.
During a violent encounter with a wanted murderer, Orlando Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton fought to hold The Thin Blue Line until the very end. Citizens stopped the officer as she loaded groceries in to her vehicle, saying that a man wanted for murdering his pregnant girlfriend, was shopping in Walmart. Sergeant Clayton approached Markeith Loyd and a gun battle ensued. Loyd fired shots at Sergeant Clayton, continuing to shoot even after she was incapacitated. It is now believed that Loyd was wearing a bullet-proof vest during the incident and that Sergeant Clayton struck him with at least one round in the vest.
Based on info & evidence we believe Markeith Loyd was wearing body armor @ time of Sgt Clayton's murder & she returned fire & struck him. pic.twitter.com/p2KwMKNToM
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) January 12, 2017
The manhunt for Loyd caused a crash between a motorist and an Orange County Sheriff's Deputy on the same day. Deputy Norman Lewis was struck on his motorcycle patrol vehicle and killed just hours after Sergeant Clayton as they worked to establish a perimeter. Loyd evaded capture and remains on the run, with hundreds of tips pouring in on his whereabouts. Three people have been arrested for aiding Loyd and the Orlando Police Department vows to continue to follow-up on every lead and over-turn every rock until he is brought to justice.
According to WFTV the three-hour funeral service, at the First Baptist Church of Orlando, began with Orlando Police Chief John Mina posthumously promoting Clayton to the rank of Lieutenant. The crowd stood to its feet in applause. "You exhibited the best in policing," Mina said. "She urged the people to not give up on our Police Department." Clayton worked for years to build relationships between the community and the department, leading in roles such as a public liaison officer.
As law enforcement from all across the country flooded the streets of Orlando in support of Master Sergeant Debra Clayton's family, her department and her legacy, helicopters circled overhead. Officers came from as far as The NYPD to pay their respects.
The Miami Dade Honor Guard took part in the ceremony, standing shoulder to shoulder with their brothers and sisters in Orlando.
Chief John Mina offered what words of comfort he could to the Clayton family, assuring them that their beloved Debra did not die alone.
OPD @ChiefJohnMina "I want Debra's family to be comforted by the fact that she did not die alone. She was surrounded by Blue. pic.twitter.com/b7OJ8CWTG8
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) January 14, 2017
Pastors who performed the ceremony read the words of Psalm 23. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
As relatives, friends, citizens and brothers and sisters in blue filed out of the church, they passed Clayton's patrol SUV, a final reminder of her two decades on the police force. Just feet away, a hearse--carrying her home from her final shift. Master Sergeant Debra Clayton was laid to rest at Woodlawn Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Gotha, where she was entombed.
“It's sad; it's a senseless death,” Orlando police Sgt. Tanesha Braunskill said. “You won't get away with this. I'm confident in our department, and we will turn over every stone to find you.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Clayton family, both blood and blue, as well as the entire Orlando Police Department during this time. We vow to continue coverage on the dirt bag Markeith Loyd until he is brought to justice. We've got your six and won't stop until he's captured.
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