She was a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, and a friend to all. She was a police officer, a published author and a community activist. When Lieutenant Debra Clayton was gunned down on Monday, Central Florida suffered a tremendous loss.
Hundreds packed the First Baptist Church of Orlando this afternoon to pay their respects and mourn the death of Clayton, among them her relatives, friends, fellow police officers from multiple agencies, and her beloved colleagues of the Orlando Police Department.
OPD Chief John Mina posthumously promoted Clayton to lieutenant during the service.
"You exhibited the best in policing," Mina said. "She urged the people to not give up on our police department."
Witnesses said Clayton confronted Markeith Loyd early Monday morning at a Wal-mart on Princeton Street in Orlando. Loyd was being sought in the shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon. During the confrontation, Loyd allegedly shot and killed Clayton.
"People thought she was my mother," said her brother Rudy Thomas. "And I never corrected them, because she was more than a mother to me. If anyone tried to tell me the things she told me, it wouldn't be the same. I feel blessed to know her...even now. Man...I love her. I loved her dearly."
Clayton was born on August 14th, 1974, to Rudolph Thomas Sr. and Yvette Shackelford, and was raised by her late grandparents, Earnest Thomas and Annie Thomas. She grew up in Orlando, and graduated from Dr. Phillips High School in 1993. She obtained an associate's degree from Valencia College in 1996, and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in public administration in 1998. In 2002, Clayton earned a master's degree in criminal justice from UCF. Clayton joined the Orlando Police Department in 1999. She was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and earned the rank of master sergeant in October.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
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