Thursday was Officer Kennis Croom’s day off, Meridian police chief says

Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 10:41 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Officer Kennis Croom was supposed to be off Thursday, but he went in to serve anyway, according to Meridian Police Chief Deborah Young said.

“He chose to come in and serve, which is what he was known to do regularly,” the chief said during a Friday press conference. “He was the definition of a true hero, and his legacy will go on.”

Croom was killed after he responded to a domestic call in the 2400 block of 51st Street in Meridian.

The incident occurred around 5:20 p.m. Thursday.

Croom, who was a little less than a month shy of his 31st birthday, was the first officer on the scene.

“He advised that he had one at gunpoint. Shortly afterward, he advised shots were being fired,” Young said.

The second officer on the scene reported that Croom had been shot.

The suspect, Dante Marquez Bender, fled before additional officers arrived.

Police later discovered Brittany Jones inside the home. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

Jones, who was pregnant, was Bender’s fiance, according to WTOK.

Croom was transported to the local hospital, where he also died.

“Any time a life is lost, it’s tragic. This whole incident is tragic and senseless,” she said. “To his family, we are praying for you during this time. I know there are no words to ease your pain - he will truly be missed by the Meridian Police Department.”

Bender was captured around 10:30 a.m. in Ackerman. Several agencies participated in the manhunt, which continued through Thursday night and into Friday morning.

The investigation has been turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Meanwhile, tributes to the fallen officer have been pouring in.

“Mississippi has lost another hero. Yesterday, Officer Kennis Croom made the ultimate sacrifice while answering the call to protect a fellow Mississippian,” Gov. Tate Reeves Tweeted. “Officer Croom and his brave actions will never be forgotten.”

“Fallen Meridian Officer Kennis Croom also served with the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy from 2018-2019,” Sheriff Tyree Jones wrote. “The HCSO joins many others in honoring his life and service.”

“Thank you for your service and sacrifice in the protection of others Officer Kennis Croom.”

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