ORLANDO, Florida - A manhunt has been launched after a police officer was shot and killed Monday morning near an Orlando Walmart, officials said.

Orlando Master Sgt. Debra Clayton approached murder suspect Markeith Loyd at about 7 a.m., according to police, and was shot multiple times. She died soon after.

Loyd fled the scene, hijacking a car, and firing at least two shots at a pursuing police vehicle. He then abandoned the first car he hijacked and stole another, according to police. 

The department said Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department, always had a smile and a high five for every child she came across and will be “missed beyond words.”

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said during a Monday morning press conference that Clayton was well-known on the force.

“She organized several marches against violence by herself. That’s how dedicated she was,” Mina said.

CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG reports Loyd is also wanted in connection with the December slaying of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. 

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said police had circulated Loyd’s image in the community because of the previous murder case, and officers had been on the lookout for him. 

“That indicates to me he is receiving help,” Demings said.

Loyd previously spent four years in prison for battery of a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison in 2011 for possessing homemade weapons while in federal custody. 

He was also charged in a 1995 murder case, but those charges were dropped.

As hundreds of officers from multiple departments continue the manhunt, more than a dozen local schools were placed on lockdown. 

An off-duty Orange County deputy died in a motorcycle accident unrelated to the manhunt Monday, officials announced. His identity has not been released.