Police Searching For Man Who Shot Pulse Nightclub Cop (Photo)

One of the first Florida police officers to respond to the June 12, 2016, Pulse nightclub massacre was shot and killed on Jan. 9.

Authorities are now searching for the shooter who killed 17-year police veteran and mother of two, Master Sgt. Debra Thomas Clayton, at a Wal-Mart in Pine Hills, Florida, the Daily Mail reports.

"The Orlando Police Department family is heartbroken today," the department said in a statement. "One of our own was taken in the line of duty. There are no words."

"I'm declaring [Jan. 9] an official day of mourning," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer added.

Clayton was reportedly shopping in the store when she was informed that suspect Markeith Loyd, a man wanted in connection with the death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, may be in the same location.

When she attempted to stop the man, he shot her and escaped in a stolen vehicle.

"[The shooter] was an average-looking dude, he walked by me, had a security vest and everything," witness James Herman said, adding the man was wearing a security uniform, WFTV reports. "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. He took off running. It's unreal."

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Police are now on the hunt for Loyd and are asking the public for help, offering a $60,000 reward for his capture. More than a dozen schools were on lockdown while police searched for the man.

He has been arrested more than 20 times in Orange County, Florida, and is a convicted felon.

"We're going to bring this dirtbag to justice, and he's going to jail,"  said Police Chief John Mina of Loyd. "The community can be sure of that."

Many expressed their grief and shock over Clayton's death. Mina gave a few words about the master sergeant.

"Debra Clayton is a hero, and she gave her life to protect the community she loves," he said. "She will be deeply missed."

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said he had known Clayton for years.

She is someone I know very well," Demings said. "In fact, I hired her when I was the OPD chief. My heart goes out to her family, the OPD and the city of Orlando as we deal with these circumstances."

Sources: Daily Mail, WFTV / Photo credit: Orlando Police Department via Daily Mail

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