Two police officers, Benjamin Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 25, died at a local hospital after being shot Saturday night during a routine traffic stop in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the Clarion-Ledger reports.
“The men and women who go out every day to protect us, the men and women who go out every day to make sure that we’re safe, they were turned on [Saturday] night,” Mayor Johnny DuPree said during a brief news conference outside of Forrest General Hospital where the officers were being treated before they succumbed to their injuries. “But the person or persons who did this are not safe in the City of Hattiesburg.”
Curtis Banks, 26, and his older brother Marvin Banks, 29, were arrested and taken into custody after a massive manhunt. The men were driving a 2000 gold Cadillac Escalade around 8:30 p.m. Saturday night when they were stopped by one of the officers. The second officer arived as back-up and that’s when shots rang out, according to Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
“All I know right now is that there was a traffic stop and someone started shooting at them and both of the officers were struck,” said Lieutinent Jon Traxler.
Hattiesburg residents Tamika Mills and Pearnell Roberts discovered the two officers lying in the street, USA Today reports. Mills, who ran over to see if she could help one of them, said that he was rolling around on the ground. When he saw her, Mills said that he asked, “Am I dying? I know I’m dying. Just hand me my walkie-talkie.”
Tate’s father, Ronald Tate, expressed his shock and grief on Facebook in a series of posts. First, the distraught father posted a news story about the incident with the words, “LORD I JUST NEED TO BREATH.” He then posted a story reporting that the suspects had been captured with the words, “WELL LORD, I HAD BEEN PRAYING THAT IT WAS ALL JUST A MISTAKE…MY BABY…I JUST NEED SOME KIND OF MERCY RIGHT NOW…”
Finally when a family member said that it felt like “she was missing a lung” because of Tate’s death, the grieving father wrote, “Feels like im missing a heart…”
Tate graduated from the police academy in June of this year, reports the Ledger. Deen was a K-9 officer who was named the department’s “Officer of the Year” in 2012.
Deen and Tate are the first police officers to die in the line of duty in Hattiesburg in 30 years.