ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Authorities raised to $100,000 the reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the fatal shooting of an Orlando police sergeant on Tuesday as he eluded hundreds of officers on the second day of a massive manhunt.
Authorities advised that arrest warrants were being prepared for people who may have helped 41-year-old Markeith Loyd evade deputies in the past month as they searched for him for questioning in the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December.
Master Sgt. Debra Clayton was fatally shot Monday morning after she approached Loyd in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store in northwest Orlando. Many of her colleagues immediately joined the pursuit; among them was a sheriff’s deputy who died when he was thrown from his motorcycle in an accident.
More than 300 tips from the public have been made, said Barb Bergin, executive director of Crimeline, the tip-line service which is offering the reward, originally set for $60,000.
“We have never burned or harmed a tipster. They are kept anonymous,” Bergin said in a plea for more tips. “We will not identify you. We just need to know where he is so no one else is hurt.”
Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies in metro Orlando had been looking for Loyd since his ex-girlfriend was murdered last December.
“Certainly it’s upsetting he was out and about and killed Debra Clayton, our first homicide in the city of Orlando this year, one of the officers protecting our community,” said Mina.
Orlando Police confirmed that Clayton was one of the officers who responded to the shooting at Pulse nightclub in which 49 patrons were killed. Last June’s massacre in Orlando was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Clayton, who was married and has a college-aged son, also was known for her mentoring of young people and her involvement in the community in which she had grown up.
In the Wal-Mart parking lot Tuesday morning, shoppers laid more than two dozen bouquets of flowers, teddy bears and candles in a makeshift memorial. Some shoppers, like Hal Shore, stopped to say a prayer or take a photo.
“It’s important that the country is aware that there is a war against police officers,” said Shore, a cabinet maker.
An apartment complex that was the focus of the manhunt Monday afternoon didn’t appear to have any police searches going on Tuesday morning. Some front doors were boarded up from being kicked in Monday because residents weren’t home when authorities came knocking.
“I’m confident he is gone,” said Ida Seck, a resident who had worked with Clayton in her job as a security officer at Universal Orlando Resort. “For things like this to happen, yeah I’m scared for safety and my son’s safety but really there is nothing you can do.”
Court documents show Loyd’s criminal record goes back two decades.
He was arrested in 1996 on a murder charge that was later dropped. Loyd was arrested for battery on an officer in 1998 and sentenced to more than four years in prison.
While behind bars, he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession from a prior case and was transferred to federal prison before being released in July 2014, according to federal records.
An Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy was killed more than two hours after Monday’s shooting when a van collided with his motorcycle as he responded to the manhunt. Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings described the 35-year-old Norman Lewis as “a gentle giant,” and the sheriff’s office said he had played football for the University of Central Florida before joining the agency 11 years ago.
Funerals were planned for Lewis for Friday and Clayton for Saturday.