MERIDIAN, Miss. (WJTV) – The man accused of killing a Meridian police officer and a woman has been captured.
Leaders with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the Blue Alert for Dante Marquez Bender was canceled Friday morning. The Meridian Star reported Bender was arrested in Ackerman.
Investigators said Bender shot and killed Officer Kennis Croom while he responded to a domestic violence call on 51st Avenue in Meridian on Thursday, June 9.
According to the Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler, Croom was shot once in the head and five times in the chest. His body was taken to the State Crime Lab for an autopsy.
“Mississippi has lost another hero. Yesterday, Officer Kennis Croom made the ultimate sacrifice while answering the call to protect a fellow Mississippian. Officer Croom and his brave actions will never be forgotten,” said Governor Tate Reeves (R-Miss.).
A woman believed to be Bender’s girlfriend or fiancé, Brittany Jones, also was found dead at the scene where Croom was shot, authorities said.
“This whole incident is tragic and senseless,” Meridian Police Chief Deborah Naylor-Young told a news conference.
Bender was fired in January just a few months after being hired as a police officer in Newton, Mississippi, said Chief Randy Patrick.
“There was an altercation that happened off duty with a civilian at a Walmart in Forrest,” Patrick said. Bender also worked for the police department in Newton, his hometown, previously under a different administration, but the reason for his departure wasn’t immediately clear, said Patrick.
Originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Croom is part of a family connected to University of Alabama football that includes an uncle, Sylvester Croom, who was an assistant coach at Alabama and in the NFL and head coach at Mississippi State University.
Croom, 30, worked with the Jackson Police Department previously and was honored by Tuscaloosa police in a statement shared on social media.
“Officer Croom served his community with bravery and selflessness. His sacrifice will not be forgotten,” Tuscaloosa police said.
Naylor-Young praised the deceased officer for his bravery and passion about police work.
“Although yesterday was his day off, he chose to come in and serve, which he was known to do regularly,” she said.
On Friday, the Pearl Police Department assisted with the escort of Croom.
“We offer prayers of comfort to Officer Croom’s family and friends, the Meridian Police Department and the entire City of Meridian,” the department said on its Facebook page.
Upon completing their investigation, MBI agents will share their findings with the local District Attorney’s Office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.