HATTIESBURG, Miss. (PIX11/AP) — A law enforcement official says four people have been arrested and two of them have been charged with capital murder in the fatal shootings of two Mississippi police officers during a weekend traffic stop in Hattiesburg.
The suspects allegedly opened fire on the two officers around 8:30 p.m. during a routine traffic stop near the center of town.
The two officers, 34-year-old Benjamin Deen and 25-year-old Liquori Tate, a recent academy graduate, died after being rushed to a local hospital. Deen was a former "officer of the year" with the Hattiesburg Police Dept.
NYPD Commissioner Bratton tweeted, "Our prayers are with everyone at Hattiesburg Police Dept. & the families of Police Officers Deen & Tate. We will never forget."
Two Hattiesburg residents, Tamika Mills and Pearnell Roberts, described the bloody scene to a Clarion-Ledger reporter, saying:
"Never in my life have I experienced or seen anything like this except on TV, and to be in the midst of it, it's shocking and heartbreaking. As we were coming down Fourth Street, we noticed a bunch of lights. As we came on through, (Roberts) told me to turn around because she saw somebody laying on the ground . . . I turned and I saw another officer across the street rolling on the ground. (Roberts) ran across the street to check on him. He wasn't all the way alert but he asked her, 'Am I dying? I know I'm dying. Just hand me my walkie-talkie.'"
Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, tells The Associated Press that 29-year-old Marvin Banks and 22-year-old Joanie Calloway have each been charged with two counts of capital murder, and Banks' 26-year-old brother, Curtis Banks, has been charged with two counts of accessory after the fact of capital murder.
Strain also says Marvin Banks also faced other charges. He says officers arrested the three Hattiesburg residents at different locations overnight without resistance following Saturday night's fatal shooting.
Both men have past convictions on weapons charges.
It wasn't immediately known if those arrested had lawyers.