Former Brookhaven officer killed in line of duty; hunt active for alleged shooter

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, June 9, 2022

A former Brookhaven police officer was killed in the line of duty Thursday in Meridian.

Currently serving with the Meridian Police Department, Kennis Croom was fatally shot in the head while responding to a shots fired call.

Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler said a woman was also dead on the scene.

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Sheriff Billy Sollie said they are searching for Dante Marquez Bender, a former Newton Police officer who was fired in January.

Law enforcement officers in Meridian reported Bender had allegedly killed the woman on the scene and was allegedly about to kill four children as well when Officer Croom stopped him. Croom was fatally shot and Bender fled the scene.

Bender, 31, is believed to be driving a 2004 black Nissan ARMADA with a tag reading “IMANI.” He is believed to be armed and dangerous. Bender is described as black male 31 years of age, five feet eleven inches tall, weighing 299 pounds, with brown eyes and short black hair. He was last seen at 2408 51st Avenue in Meridian, on June 9, at approximately 5:36 pm and was wearing a purple sweatshirt and purple sweatpants.

Officials say around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, scanner traffic indicated officer down on 51st Avenue. An ambulance transported a Meridian officer in critical condition to a hospital, where he was airlifted to another hospital. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has issued a statewide emergency bulletin for Bender. Anyone with information on Bender or his whereabouts is asked to call 911 or 1-855-485-TIPS (8477) or email All tips are anonymous.