Debra Clayton: Police seargeant fatally shot outside Walmart by convict
Debra Clayton truly had a big heart.
She stayed with a friend for two days after surgery, she started a nonprofit for girls and women, she gave of herself continually.
She had so much to give, but her life was taken this week. She was gunned down Monday, January 8, 2016 outside an Orlando Walmart after confronting wanted murder suspect Markeith Loyd.
The 17-year veteran of the force leaves behind two children.
"I didn't know anyone with a bigger heart," friend Teresa Sokolovic told the Orlando Sentinel. "She was an angel."
Sokolovic said that the killer took someone who was "always on top of her game" so "If he got her, he must be armed and really dangerous."
James Herman, a witness, told WFTV the shooter was wearing the garb of a security officer.
"He walked by me, had a security vest and everything," Herman was quoted as saying. "I was walking down the sidewalk, right past the officer, and I heard her tell him to stop, or whatever, and he shot her. He shot her down."
Clayton was rushed to the hospital, but right before that, as first responders hovered over her body, officers gathered to salute her.
"She gave her life protecting the community that she loved," Orlando police Chief John Mina said in a news conference, calling Clayton an American hero.
In 1998, Clayton graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in public administration. She earned her master's in criminal justice in 2002.
Despite her education, all she wanted to be was a police officer.
"It was her passion," her cousin Jonathan Thomas told the Sentinel. "She wanted to be a police officer so she could do good and get bad people off the streets."
Her alleged killer, Markieth Loyd, is also wanted in the slaying of Sade Dixon, who Black Girl Tragic wrote about last month. She was blasted in the entryway of her home in Orlando.
Orange County, Florida police say Loyd was her ex-boyfriend. The suspect opened fire on Dixon and her brother at her Orlando residence, shooting as many as 10 times. Dixon was fatally wounded. She was three months pregnant.