Update: second officer was struck and killed while setting up a perimeter to hunt for the suspect
-picture of officer that was shot.
DEVELOPING – A wanted murder suspect accused of shooting and killing an Orlando police officer outside a Walmart was on the run Monday, as police warned the convicted felon with a long rap sheet may be armed and dangerous.
The suspect, identified as Markeith Loyd, was accused of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend last month, Fox 35 reported. He had been arrested 20 times in Orange County since 1994, according to court records.
Loyd was wearing a security uniform at the time of Monday’s shooting, a witness told WFTV.
“(The shooter) was an average looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything,” witness James Herman told the station. “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.”
Police released video of the officer’s flag-draped coffin leaving Orlando Regional Medical Center. At least 64 officers were killed in gun-related incidents in 2016, a jump of more than 50 percent from the previous year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Loyd had been on the run since Dec. 13 when police accused him of shooting and killing 24-year-old Sade Dixon, a pregnant mother of two, and critically wounding her brother, Ronald Steward, outside her home. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office stated his age as 41, but the Orlando Sentenel reported it as 43.
Herman said a shopper had tipped off the unnamed officer — who was putting bags in the trunk of her vehicle — that Loyd was in the Walmart waiting to check out. As the officer walked towards the store, the suspect barged out and fired at least 12 shots, according to Herman. Three shots hit the officer, WFTV reported.
After deputies launched a manhunt, the suspect pulled into a nearby apartment complex and fired shots, hitting one deputy’s unmarked SUV twice before carjacking another vehicle and escaping, Fox 35 added. Nobody was reported hurt at the apartment complex.
The manhunt also led police to the Pine Hills area a few miles west of Orlando.
City Commissioner Regina Hill identified the officer as her Orlando Police Dept. liaison. The officer’s heart briefly stopped while paramedics were racing her to Orlando Regional Medical Center, rescuers said.
Officials locked down 15 schools in the area. Evidence markers were spotted in the Walmart parking lot.
Sheriff’s deputies rushed to the scene after they got word that an “officer needs help,” the Sentinel reported.
Students and staff in the locked-down schools were safe, Fox 35 added.