End of watch: Remembering our fallen heroes

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, May 27, 2023

The citizens of Brookhaven and Lincoln County have seen their share of officers whose lives were lost in the line of duty. Any salute to first responders would be incomplete without an acknowledgment of their service and honoring their memory.


Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr served four years with the department prior to his death at age 36. He was the first of eight people killed on Memorial Day weekend, May 27, 2017, in a domestic event that turned into a shooting spree.

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In September 2018, two Brookhaven Police Department officers were killed in the line of duty. Cpl. Zach Moak, age 31, and patrolman James Kevin White, age 35, were shot responding to an early-morning call of gunshots. Both men succumbed to their injuries that morning.

Lincoln County Correctional Officer Marshall Lee “Bem” London Jr. died May 18, 2020, after contracting COVID-19 during an outbreak at the Lincoln County Jail. He served more than 16 years at the jail.

Lt. Marzell J. Brooks died in November 2020 from COVID-19-related causes at age 58. Brooks apparently contracted the virus while on duty. Having served with BPD for many years, Brooks was also a Brookhaven School District resource officer.

David “Basie” Johnson was with the police department 24 years and a Brookhaven School District resource officer for 22 years when he retired in May 2018 at age 51. His retirement came early due to health issues, and he died of a heart attack in January 2021. Though he did not die while in active service, Johnson’s retirement would not have come as early were it not for his health struggles.

Kennis W. Croom, a former Brookhaven police officer, was killed in the line of duty as a Meridian police officer in June 2022.

A 1938 deputy death

After a search of old records, it was discovered that on June 24, 1938, Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff Robert Edward Moak had been assaulted and later died as a result of his injuries. The records indicate that the assault was in connection to a court case that Moak had testified on and that the assault occurred while he was on duty. The suspect was later arrested and convicted of manslaughter.

Due to the circumstances of the incident, the information was submitted in 2022 to the Memorial for Moak to be added.

This year, 556 names were added to the 23,785 names already on the wall — 224 who died in 2022, and 332 historical additions. Deputy Robert Moak Jr. was approved to be added and was recognized at the national candlelight ceremony May 13, 2023, during National Police Week.

All of these officers served their departments and communities well, and the name used so often of each of them was well-earned and deserved — “hero.”