An Orange County Sheriff’s Office motorcycle deputy was struck and killed Monday during the manhunt for the suspect in the shooting death earlier of an Orlando police officer.
The crash that killed the deputy happened at about 9:43 a.m., according to WFTV.
“In my 36-year career, this is probably one of the toughest days in my career,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
Other details about the crash were not immediately available.
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The deputy had been part of the search for Markeith Loyd, the suspect in the shooting death of Officer Debra Clayton.
"Debra Clayton is a hero and she will gave her life protecting the community that she loves. She will be deeply missed," said Chief John Mina, who added that Clayton was a 17-year veteran of the police department.
A witness told WFTV in Orlando that Clayton was shot nine times by a man wearing a security uniform at a Walmart store in Orlando.
Law enforcement has been hunting for Loyd since Dec. 13, when investigators say he shot his pregnant ex-girlfriend to death.
"There is a manhunt underway for murder suspect Markeith Loyd. ... Loyd was spotted today fleeing in a vehicle from the OPD scene at the Princeton Avenue Walmart, by one of our deputies," officials stated, according to News 13.
After the alleged shooting at the Walmart, an Orange County Sheriff's Office deputy saw Loyd at North Lane and Pine Hills Drive, according to News 13. When Loyd pulled into a nearby apartment complex, he allegedly shot at the deputy and also struck his unmarked OCSO vehicle twice, officials explained.
The deputy was unharmed, but Loyd carjacked a vehicle and fled the scene, according to officials.
"He later abandoned that vehicle near the intersection of Rosemont and Cinderlane Parkway where a manhunt is underway," officials stated.
Officials described Loyd as armed and dangerous and warn the public not to approach him, but to call 911.
Loyd was named as a suspect last month after his pregrant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon, 24, was shot dead at her home. Her brother, Ronald Steward, was also shot and was last listed in critical condition.
The officer was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment.
Numerous schools near the Wal-Mart at 3101 West Princeton St. have been placed on lockdown because of law enforcement activity, Bay News 9 reported. Students and staff are safe, Orange County Public Schools spokeswoman Lorena Hitchcock said.
Orlando police urged residents to avoid the area of West Princeton Street and John Young Parkway during the manhunt. The Orange County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol are assisting Orlando police.