UPDATE: Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has spoken on the recent heartbreaking events of two Hattiesburg police officers. She said in a statement:
“The shocking assault on law enforcement officers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, struck at the heart of that great city. The Department of Justice stands ready to offer any possible aid to the Hattiesburg community as they investigate this appalling incident. And we will continue to do all that we can to protect our officers across the country and support all those who wear the badge.
“Officer Benjamin Deen and Officer Liquori Tate were committed and courageous public safety officials, dedicated to their community and devoted to their mission. They exemplified the very best that our country has to offer. And as we go forward, the Department of Justice intends to honor their service and their sacrifice by fighting for the values they protected every day, and defending the American people they were proud to serve.
“Their loss is made even more tragic by the fact that, on the day they were killed this past Saturday, the country began observing Police Week – a time when we pause to remember and honor the more than 20,000 law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty. The murder of these young men is a devastating reminder that the work our brave police officers perform every day is extremely dangerous, profoundly heroic, and deeply deserving of our unequivocal support. All Americans owe these courageous citizens a debt of gratitude. The Department of Justice stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at every level of law enforcement as we mourn this most recent loss.”
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UPDATE: There will be a Candlelit vigil for slain HPD officers Deen & Tate from 8 to 10 pm on May 10, 2015 at the Hattiesburg Police Department substation by Petro Nissan dealership out in West Hattiesburg.
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UPDATE: According to Warren Strain, 28-year-old Cornelius Clark, the 4th suspect in the shooting deaths of two HPD officers, has been arrested and charged with obstruction of justice.
Strain says Clark was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.
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UPDATE: Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree has confirmed a fourth suspect has been arrested today.
Cornelius Clark has been charged with obstruction of justice. His arraignment could be as early as tomorrow morning, but it’s not set yet. We will continue to update as more information becomes available.
Gov. Phil Bryant has released a statement on the fallen heroes killed in the line of duty.
“Deborah and I join all Mississippians this morning in mourning the death of our two police officers in Hattiesburg. This should remind us to thank all law enforcement for their unwavering service to protect and serve. May God keep them all in the hollow of his hand,” he said.
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HATTIESBURG, MS – Three suspects are in custody following the shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg Police Officers Saturday night.
In a Sunday afternoon news conference, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree said authorities and city officials made one promise to the families of the victims. That promise, “We’re going to find them. We’re going to catch them,” he said.
Two of the suspects in the case have been identified as brothers Curtis Banks, 26 and Marvin Banks, 29. Joanie Calloway, 22, was also arrested and charged in connection to the deadly shooting.
According to reports, the Banks brothers were taken into custody early Sunday morning. Marvin Banks was arrested at a motel around 1 a.m. Two hours later, Curtis Banks was reportedly taken into custody at an apartment complex.
Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict confirms the fallen officers are Benjamin J. Deen, 34 and Liquori Tate, 25. Both Tate and Deen were taken from the scene of the shooting to Forrest General Hospital where they died.
“It’s difficult at best for police officers to go out here and protect us; they have to try to protect themselves at the same time,” Mayor DuPree said.
Our crews were there as Curtis Banks, 26, was being taken into Troop J of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Officials with the Mississippi Highway Patrol tell us a traffic stop on Gordon Street lead to the shooting.
“There is nothing routine about a traffic stop these days,” the mayor said.
Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said one officer stopped a 2000 Gold Cadillac Escalade around 8:30 p.m. Shortly after, a second officer arrived to assist him and shots were fired.
Officers Deen and Tate were shot at the Briarfield Apartments, according to authorities.
We’re told one of the suspects attempted to leave the scene in an officer’s patrol car. That car was abandoned near a railroad in Forrest County. It was later taken to Troop J.
Multiple agencies including the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Highway Patrol and several local agencies assisted with the shooting investigation.
Strain says the Banks brothers and Calloway were all taken to jails outside of Forrest Co. They’re not releasing their locations to the public.
Marvin Banks has been charged with two counts of capital murder, one count of grand theft auto and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Joanie Calloway was charged with capital murder. Curtis Banks was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact.
We’re told the three accused in the case will appear before a judge for their initial appearances on Monday, May 11.
According to the mayor, Officer Benjamin Deen leaves behind a wife and two children. We’re told Officer Deen was a K9 Officer.
Officer Liquori Tate, who the mayor described as a “terrific individual” having an “infectious smile,” leaves behind his parents. According to DuPree, he’d been on the force for just a couple of years.
Mayor Johnny DuPree says the officers deaths are the first the city has seen in 30 years.
Grief counselors will be available to family members and fellow officers of officers Deen and Tate. “On the cusp of us having ceremonies for fallen police officers this coming week, this is a time for us to pull together…” the mayor said.
A vigil for the fallen officers is scheduled for Monday, May 11 at 1 p.m. It’ll take place at the Lake Terrace Convention Center.
“These are family members of our community, and we want to do just that. We want to honor them as family members of our community, and we’ll pull together and make sure the family knows that we love them,” Mayor DuPree said.