Suspect wanted in murder of former Brookhaven officer has been captured

Published 10:41 am Friday, June 10, 2022

A suspect wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a police officer and a woman in Meridian Thursday has been apprehended.

Currently serving with the Meridian Police Department, Kennis Croom was fatally shot in the head while responding to a shots fired call. An Alabama native, Croom was a former Brookhaven Police Department officer.

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

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Sheriff Billy Sollie said they were searching for Dante Marquez Bender, a former Newton Police officer who was fired in January. Bender, 31, was taken into custody Friday morning in Ackerman by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the US Marshals.

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.

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 issued a statewide emergency bulletin for Bender and a $10,000 reward offer.