2 Mississippi police officers dead after shooting at traffic stop



Two suspects accused of killing two Mississippi police officers Saturday night were reportedly arrested early Sunday morning.

The Hattiesburg American reports that Curtis Banks was brought to the Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop J headquarters at around 3 a.m. local time. His brother Marvin Banks was arrested about two hours earlier.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that as reporters were asking Curtis Banks if he had shot two of the Hattiesburg patrolmen he blurted out “no sir, I didn’t do it.”

The killings prompted a statewide manhunt for the two suspects late Saturday.

Warren Strain, a spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said one Hattiesburg officer had initially stopped a 2000 Gold Cadillac Escalade in an industrial part of the city at around 8:30 p.m. local time Saturday. A second officer arrived afterward to assist him and that is when shots were fired. Those were reported to be the first deaths on the Hattiesburg police force in three decades.

“Obviously these suspects are armed and dangerous. There is a danger, a threat for sure,” Strain told The Associated Press by telephone early Sunday from the scene, an industrial corridor fronting a housing area. He said officers had told people in the immediate area to “take shelter.”

Strain said both officers died of their injuries at a hospital. He said law enforcement agencies across the state were searching for two men identified as 26-year-old Curtis Banks and his 29-year-old brother Marvin Banks.

A Hattiesburg Police Department spokesman, Lt. Jon Traxler told The Associated Press the officers who died were 34-year-old Benjamin Deen and 25-year-old Liquori Tate.

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,” Traxler said. He said he didn’t know how many shots were fired, or exactly by whom, adding that was now part of the investigation.

He said the state’s chief law enforcement agency, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, had taken up the probe of the shooting.

“That’s still under investigation. The crime scene unit is processing the scene,” said Strain.  .

Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree told the Clarion-Ledger he lamented the deaths.

“The men and women who go out every day to protect us, the men and woman who go out every day to make sure that we’re safe, they were turned on (Saturday) night,” DuPree said outside Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, where the officers were taken.

The Clarion-Ledger reports these are the first Hattiesburg officers to die in the line of duty in 30 years. It said Tate was a recent police academy graduate while Deen was a K-9 officer who had been honored as the department’s “Officer of the Year” in 2012.


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