Mourners remember fallen Orlando police sergeant Debra Clayton at vigil

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Orange County commissioner Victoria Siplin hugs the sister of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton. - PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
  • Orange County commissioner Victoria Siplin hugs the sister of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton.
At a tearful vigil in front of the Walmart on Princeton Street, mourners remembered the life and accomplishments of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, an Orlando Police officer who was killed earlier this week by a murder suspect.

"Everything she worked for, she died for," says a man who identified himself as Johnny, Clayton's only son. "I was just talking to her. She loved the people, and she loved to save people and help people. And she gave her life for it."
Master Sgt. Debra Clayton's son and Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill speak at the vigil in honor of the fallen Orlando Police officer. - PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
  • Master Sgt. Debra Clayton's son and Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill speak at the vigil in honor of the fallen Orlando Police officer.
Law enforcement officials are still searching for Markeith Loyd, the man suspected of shooting and killing Clayton at Walmart when she tried to detain him. Loyd is also accused of allegedly shooting and killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon in December. OPD is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. On the same day Clayton was killed, Orange County Sheriff's deputy Norman Lewis died in a traffic crash while law enforcement officials searched for Loyd. As people gathered in the Walmart parking lot on Wednesday night to light candles and sing "This Little Light of Mine," others placed teddy bears, flowers and balloons at a memorial for the fallen officer.
Mourners placed candles at the memorial for the Orlando officer in front of the Walmart on Princeton Street. - PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
  • Mourners placed candles at the memorial for the Orlando officer in front of the Walmart on Princeton Street.
Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill says Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the department, gave it all to see transformation in the west side of Orlando.

"She was my substitute liaison, but more than that she was my friend," Hill says. "The only thing she wanted was for little brown boys and girls to see themselves in her. She worked hard for them. She wanted troubled young men and women to know they still had opportunities, that it was not over."

Clayton worked with the Dueling Dragons of Orlando, a youth rowing team sponsored by OPD. Hill says she had also started her own nonprofit to "bridge the gap" between the African American community and the police. Clayton was also one of the first officers to respond to the scene of the Pulse massacre on June 12.

"What I see tonight happening is just what Debra envisioned," she says. "The work continues. Debra's legacy will not die...We're Orlando united. We're Orlando strong. The work continues."

Clayton's funeral is scheduled for this Saturday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Orlando. The funeral for Lewis is scheduled at the same church on Friday at 11 a.m.

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