UPDATED: Brookhaven policemen Moak, White killed in the line of duty

Published 7:07 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

A pair of Brookhaven police officers were killed in the line of duty early Saturday morning.

Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins said Cpl. Zach Moak, 31, and patrolman James Kevin White, 35, were shot down in front of a home at 600 North Sixth St. shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday while responding to a call of “shots fired” in the neighborhood, which is two blocks north of Rosehill Cemetery. The officers arrived at the scene separately — White first, and Moak quickly after — and exchanged gunfire with at least one suspect, who was wounded and taken to a Jackson hospital, where he is in custody.

“We answer those calls many times, and nothing ever happens. One hundred times — just that one time is all it takes,” Collins said after a press briefing at the courthouse at 10 a.m. “These are two awesome people who lost their lives in the line of duty, and they’re both heroes. They’re in the presence of Jesus right now.”

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Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain identified the suspect as 25-year-old Marquis Aaron Flowers, of 426 East Independence St. He would not comment on Flowers’ condition, citing MDPS policy.

At least two other male suspects were arrested at the scene early Saturday, which is located in a dense neighborhood of old homes two blocks north of Rosehill Cemetery. Yellow police tape blocked off the triple intersection of Choctaw, Hines and Sixth streets, as around 30 police vehicles jammed the streets.

Onlookers stood street side and on the porches of their homes as officers roamed the tape lines with shotguns and rifles. Several residents — who did not wish to be identified — said they heard multiple gunshots around 5 a.m. that morning. One resident said he thought nothing of it because gunfire is commonly heard in the area.

Strain said additional people were questioned, but no additional charges against anyone have been filed.

Strain was also tight on the preliminary details of the incident, saying the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation will run the investigation and has two crime scene units at work in Brookhaven.

“The evidence gathered will be compiled into a case file and turned over to (Lincoln County District Attorney) Dee Bates,” he said. “We speculate there will be body camera footage, and there were dash cams, but we’ll wait and see.”

Strain said it is unclear if the shooting was an isolated incident or connected to another crime.

“Time will tell,” he said. “It’s early on in the investigation. Our investigators are very good at what they do, and they’ll go through it piece-by-piece.”

Strain said no additional details would be released over the weekend, but law enforcement may give an update on the investigation Monday.

“This is a tragic day,” he said. “Law enforcement lay their lives out on the line every day so we don’t have to.”

Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher said his office will give its full resources to the investigation, and the FBI has also offered to assist.

“We lost two fine young men today, and they have families,” he said. “Please keep them in your prayers.”

Collins said Brookhaven is a safe community, but that crime happens in the Homeseekers Paradise just like anywhere else.

“Whenever crime comes up, we’re going to fight crime,” he said. “To the criminals out there, we’re never going to stop.”

Several statewide officials — including Gov. Phil Bryant, attorney general Jim Hood and secretary of state Delbert Hosemann — tweeted their condolences to the city Saturday morning.

An account to support the families of Moak and White has been set up at Bank of Brookhaven. Anyone wishing to give can drop off donations at the bank on Brookway Boulevard, or at The Daily Leader’s office on North Railroad Avenue starting Monday.

The deaths of Moak and White marks the second time in around 18 months law enforcement officers have lost their lives in Lincoln County.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr, 36, was killed over the Memorial Day weekend in 2017, along with seven other Lincoln County residents in the worst shooting spree in state history. Suspect Willie Cory Godbolt remains behind bars as prosecutors prepare to seek the death penalty in his case.