Auburndale church planning to build youth center in Sgt. Debra Clayton's honor

Posted at 4:23 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 16:23:00-05

The Polk County church that the Orlando Police Sergeant Debra Clayton attended is now planning to name a youth center in her name.

Clayton died in a shootout with an accused murderer last Monday at a Walmart.

The veteran police officer also had a soft spot for kids and made that known at the Winning Souls for the Kingdom International Ministries in Auburndale.

She discovered the church a few years ago and liked it so much she even got married last year.

“I think she liked the atmosphere here and we have a lot of youth, and i think that’s what drew her,” said Apostle Lizelle Bradely.

The last ten days have been some of the most trying times for the small church community.

On the morning of the shooting, Bradley knew Debra covered that part of Orlando.

“I was praying it wasn’t her,” she said.

She sent her this text: “Good morning sweetie, are you ok?”

But no one responded.

Debra’s husband texted her last night with some different news.

“I got a text from her husband saying they caught him,” she said with a slight smile.

Church leaders are overwhelmed with emotion, and pleased that the accused shooter was taken alive.

They said that’s what Debra would have wanted.

Now the community is working to raise money to honor her in such a fitting way.

They started a GoFundMe page to speed up the construction of the Debra Clayton Youth Center. The center is named after the hero who encouraged the team to build a safe haven for kids.

Her picture and name will be on prominent display.

“For me, personally, it’s going to keep her alive for me,” Bradley said.