A statewide manhunt for the man accused of killing a Meridian, MS, police officer and a pregnant woman ended Friday when the suspect was arrested in Ackerman by U.S. Marshals and state law enforcement officers. Officer Kennis Croom was shot and killed Thursday afternoon after responding to a disturbance call. Croom was scheduled to be off on Thursday but chose to come in and work, the chief says.
In a Friday afternoon press conference, Meridian Police Chief Deborah Young provided some details of what happened Thursday.
“What we experienced yesterday is something that we hope that we would never have to go through,” the chief said.
Young explained that Croom had been the first to arrive at the scene, but soon advised that he was holding someone at gunpoint. Shortley afterwards, according to the chief, Croom reported shots fired. The second officer to arrive found Croom and radioed that an officer was down. The suspect had fled before the second officer’s arrival.
Police checked the residence and found Brittany Jones inside suffering from a gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Young said Croom was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Anytime a life is lost, it's tragic. This whole incident is tragic and senseless,” Young said. “Officer Kennis Croom lost his life doing what he loved, serve this community. He was full of passion, joy, and dedication He will truly be missed by Meridian Police Department. He is the definition of a true hero, and his legacy will go on.”
The Meridian Police Department has turned the case over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.
Suspected shooter Dante Marquez Bender, 31, was apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service about 10:30 this morning in Ackerman, MS, reports WTVA. He was found sitting inside his SUV at a Chevron. State and local law enforcement officers assisted the marshals.