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Slain Fla. officer's cuffs used to arrest suspect

"To put her handcuffs on the bad guy ... is meaningful to her family and to her law enforcement family"


By Caitlin Doornbos
Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando Police Lt. Debra Clayton's handcuffs were used for a special purpose Tuesday night — to arrest the man accused of killing her.

After a nine-day manhunt, local law enforcement captured Markeith Loyd in an abandoned house in West Orlando's Carver Shores at 7 p.m.

Markeith Loyd is escorted out of the Orlando Police headquarters in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. The suspect in the fatal shooting of an Orlando police officer was captured Tuesday night after eluding a massive manhunt for more than a week, authorities said. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Markeith Loyd is escorted out of the Orlando Police headquarters in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. The suspect in the fatal shooting of an Orlando police officer was captured Tuesday night after eluding a massive manhunt for more than a week, authorities said. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Loyd was pulled from a Sheriff's Office vehicle shortly after and more than a half dozen law enforcement officers escorted him into Orlando Police headquarters.

Wearing red pants, a gray shirt and his hands cuffed behind his back, Loyd exclaimed, "They beat me up! They beat me up!" to nearby cameras. His bloodied face appeared beaten with swollen eyes and lips.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina flashed a wide smile as he followed Loyd into the building.

"The injuries looked minor to me," Mina said at a Tuesday evening press conference. He said Loyd was getting medical attention at police headquarters. He was later taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Loyd, 41, has been wanted since Dec. 13, when investigators say he fatally shot his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon, 24, and injured her brother when he rushed to help her. Clayton was trying to capture Loyd at the Wal-Mart near Princeton Street and John Young Parkway Jan. 9 when she was slain.

One of Clayton's longtime family friends, Jack Williams, said, "Honestly speaking, I wanted him to put up a fight so they'd kill him."

"I will be more at peace once he's been sentenced and put to death because he's a menace to society, and he doesn't need to be living here amongst us," Williams said. "... Now I pray for a conviction."

Loyd faces two counts of first-degree murder with a firearm and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm in Dixon and her fetus' deaths, and attempted first degree murder in the shooting of Dixon's 26-year-old brother, Ronald Stewart, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Tuesday night. Charges in Clayton's death have not yet been announced.

"Our entire community is going to breathe a sigh of relief. They are going to sleep better tonight knowing this ... maniac is off the streets," Demings said.

Danny Banks, the special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Orlando, said law enforcement learned Tuesday afternoon that Loyd may be at the home at 1157 Lescot Lane near Raleigh Street where he was eventually captured.

They spotted him, and about two dozen officers, deputies and state and federal agents surrounded the house, Banks said. That number quickly escalated to "several dozen. The reason for that is that we know what his propensity is for escape, for escaping perimeters."

Loyd first tried to escape through the back sliding-glass doors, Mina said. He then surrendered through the front doors wearing body armor. He also had two guns, including one that had a magazine that could hold 100 rounds, when he came out of the house.

Mina said Loyd threw down his guns when he saw the law enforcement surrounding him but resisted arrest. No shots were fired.

Mina called Clayton's husband, Seth Clayton, immediately after Loyd was taken into custody, he said.

"He was relieved and happy, and also upset to know he was arrested right around the corner from Debra's mother's house," Mina said.

Clayton's sister, Nikki Anita Huey, 40, of Orlando said the news of Loyd's arrest was a relief.

"When I heard the news that he had been captured, I was filled with tears because ... I have been praying for him to come to the light and turn himself in peacefully."

Huey said she was surprised Loyd was arrested in Carver Shores, the same neighborhood where Loyd and Clayton grew up.

"It's amazing that he went right back home to where he came from," Huey said. "Familiar territory."

About 9:45 p.m., officials took a bandaged Loyd dressed in all white to ORMC. Loyd could only see through one eye as he was taken to the hospital, as his left eye was covered with a patch and his face was heavily wrapped in gauze.

Residents of the neighborhood were relieved as law enforcement stayed at the Lescot Lane home after Loyd's arrest.

"I was like, 'Thank you, Jesus,' " said nearby resident Jackie Roy. She did not know him but said neighbors told her he grew up in the neighborhood.

Roy said her two sons catch the city bus near Lescot Lane to their school each morning.

"We had people here in fear," Roy said. "He didn't have anything to lose."

The arrest happened just hours after Mina said Loyd was added to the U.S. Marshals Office top 15 most-wanted fugitives list. Mina said at the press conference that arrest was not made by the aid of a tip, but rather as a result of "great police work."

Mina said there would be more arrests coming.

"Anyone who harbored, aided or abetted him in any way is going to be arrested. And we know from our investigation that people did help him."

The manhunt was coordinated out of the FDLE office in downtown Orlando, Banks said, and involved OPD, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, FDLE, the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI.

"In my now 23 years in law enforcement, I don't know that I know of a better example of a unified group, across federal, state and local law enforcement ... on one mission."

Loyd's capture, he said, was "a very good example of teamwork."

Orange County Sheriff Office deputy First Class Norman Lewis also was killed in a traffic accident Jan. 9 during the search. Retired Orange County Lt. Spike Hopkins, who was a close friend of Lewis, said, "I personally hold this man responsible for the death of Norman."

Hopkins said the way Loyd surrendered says a great deal about him.

"When surrounded by a group of police officers, he loses all of his courage, and he crawls out from under the house like a baby, not wanting to get hurt," Hopkins said.

Loyd was placed into Clayton's handcuffs, a "tradition in law enforcement that goes back many years," Mina said. "To put her handcuffs on the bad guy ... is meaningful to her family and to her law enforcement family."

Rene Stutzman, Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie contributed to this report.

cdoornbos@orlandosentinel.com or 407-650-6931

___ (c)2017 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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