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Two Florida law enforcement officers were killed Monday during a manhunt for a murder suspect who has been on the run since he was accused of fatally shooting a pregnant mother last month.
Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, 42, was shot by the suspect, Markeith Damengzlo Loyd, 41, after she responded to a sighting of him outside a Walmart store about 7:15 a.m. ET Monday, Police Chief John Mina told reporters. Clayton returned fire, but authorities don't believe Loyd was struck.
Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Norman Lewis, an 11-year veteran, was killed in a crash as authorities gave pursuit.
Mina said at a somber news conference that Loyd could face charges of first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer.
"We're going to bring this dirtbag to justice, and he's going to go to jail," Mina said.
Clayton, who was married with a college-age son, was a 17-year veteran of the force who grew up in the area. Police records show that she was among the early wave of officers who responded to the shootings that killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12.
Mayor Buddy Dyer, lamenting what he called "an incredibly difficult day for Orlando," promised: "We will catch this criminal, and we will bring him to justice."
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the suspect carjacked a vehicle and fired at least one shot during a high-speed chase. During the pursuit, Lewis, who was on a motorcycle, was killed in a crash with an uninvolved motorist, Demings said.
Lewis received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where he played on the offensive line for the football team from 2000 to 2003.
Authorities had been seeking Loyd since Dec. 13, when Sade Dixon, 24, a mother of two who was three months pregnant, was shot to death. Her brother was shot in the leg, police said.
A $60,000 reward was offered Monday for information leading to the capture of Loyd, who is believed to be receiving assistance from unknown other people, authorities said.
"If we find out about these people, we will criminally charge them," Mina said.
Authorities described Loyd as being 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 230 pounds. They said he should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.
State records show that Loyd has a long record of previous arrests, including a conviction for battery of a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence in a Jan. 3, 1998, incident. He served just more than four years in prison, parole records show.
His record includes other convictions for firearms violations and resisting police. He and his wife were in the process of divorcing after domestic violence charges against Loyd were dropped in late 2015.
Dyer, the mayor, declared Monday an official day of mourning. Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was "heartbroken and angered."