'Officer Debra was love' — Friends and family remember slain Orlando officer at candlelight vigil

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orlando Master Sgt. Debra Clayton’s son spoke to the crowd of about 100 people, who gathered in the Walmart parking lot where Clayton was killed Monday.

“Everything she worked for, she died for,” said her son Johnny. “She loved people, and she loved to save people and help people.”

Johnny asked the community to continue his mother’s service of doing everything possible to keep the community safe.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing forward so we can make it a better city,” he said.

Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill spoke about the difference Clayton made in the community she served.

"She gave it all to see transformation in the streets of Ivey Lane, in the corridors of Mercy Drive (and) up and down North Lane where she was a servant leader," Hill said, noting that at the time of her death, Clayton was preparing to start a non-profit to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

More than 100 people gathered for the vigil.

Orlando Commissioner Patty Sheehan described Clayton in simple terms.

"Officer Debra was love," she said.

As people in attendance held candles, prayed and fought back tears, Clayton’s sister, Ashley Thomas, spoke about Clayton’s selflessness.

“She was a good-hearted person, and she always wanted what was best for everybody,” said Thomas.

That’s what Clayton was doing outside the Walmart when she tried to stop Markeith Loyd, but ended up becoming a victim.

Clayton, a 17-year veteran with the force, was attempting to stop and question Loyd after a customer at the store tipped her off that he was nearby.

Loyd has been wanted since December, after he allegedly shot and killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon.

Photos: Orange County Deputy Norm Lewis killed in the line of duty

Photos: Orlando police Master Sgt. Debra Clayton

Since Clayton's death, a memorial has been growing in the Walmart parking lot.

Sheehan promised that Loyd would be brought to justice, and she believed the community would play a large role in making that happen.

"People wonder what kind of thing unites us as a community, and this society ... it's how we respond to violence," she said. "And we're going to get this guy."

Hill reiterated Sheehan's belief, but at the same time warned residents of the danger an uninvolved community puts itself in.

"When we stop protecting these killers and we start seeing something and saying something, it won't be you burying your mom," Hill said.

She then emphatically added that Orlando has once again showed its mettle and unity as a community.

"We're stronger together, we're Orlando united, we're Orlando strong ... the work continues," Hill said.

People in the community who knew Clayton shared their stories with Eyewitness News.

"She was a wonderful, wonderful lady. I can honestly say, if you needed something from her, she was there,” said Michelle Morgan. "Every morning, we'd have a conversation. And it was a great conversation. She's definitely going to be missed. And when I say missed, I mean missed, because I will be missing talking to her."

"It's a loss for the police force. It's a loss for the community. It's a loss for all of us. This police officer went to work to keep us safe yesterday, and she never came back,” said David Lorzada.

The funeral for Clayton will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Orlando.