Harrison County

‘We are with you.’ Coast pastors pray with a community mourning fallen Biloxi officer

A community of mourners came together in prayer Tuesday night for fallen Biloxi police Patrolman Robert McKeithen.

His wife, Pamela McKeithen, was surrounded by family as Coast pastors offered words of healing and hope.

A longtime police officer and Army veteran, McKeithen had planned to retire at the end of the year after nearly 24 years of service.

He died Sunday after he was shot to death near his police SUV outside the Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center.

Darian T. Atkinson, 19, of Biloxi, was identified as the alleged gunman. He was arrested Monday night in Wiggins. He is being held at the Harrison County jail on a charge of capital murder. His older brother, Davian Atkinson, has been arrested as an accessory.

At Tuesday’s prayer service, pastors also offered prayers for the Atkinson family.

Police Chief John Miller honored McKeithen’s wife and children for their sacrifice of losing a loved one.

He also praised the community for coming together to show their overwhelming support for the men and women in blue.

“All day long, all night long, people are coming, sharing their love, sharing their support for us,” Miller said. “You folks are with us, and we are with you.”

Some in the crowd responded. “We are with you, chief,” a supporter shouted. “We are with you.”

Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said he was glad to see a change outside the police department — that only two nights before had been a place of “hell” become “a place of God.”

Peterson commended law enforcement and the community for coming together to help solve the crime..

“We made sure everything was done the right way for Biloxi, for the police department and the community,” Peterson said.

Local, state and federal law enforcement officers attended the memorial along with other first responders, council members, community leaders and other Coast residents.