Crime

‘A genuine threat to this community.’ Police identify suspect in officer’s shooting death.

Biloxi police have identified the suspect in the shooting death of officer Robert McKeithen.

Police say they are looking for Darian T. Atkinson, 19, of Biloxi, on a charge of capital murder of a law enforcement officer.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller, Gulfport Chief Leonard Papania and Sheriff Troy Peterson all spoke at a press conference Monday evening and said they have yet to discover a motive for the shooting.

However, Papania said the officer was “ambushed,” and law enforcement agencies are gathering more information on the suspect by the hours thanks to an outpouring of support from the community.

Papania called Atkinson “a genuine threat to this community,” and is considered armed and dangerous.

“We are not going to stop until we find him and bring him to justice,” Peterson said.

They called what happened to the veteran officer “a deliberate and sick act.”

Miller said officers were working hard, but they are afraid, too, that the suspect could be targeting another officer or even a random individual.

Authorities also said they thought Atkinson is still in Biloxi and is getting help in eluding police, and anyone helping him would be charged with a crime.

Early on, police said he man went up to McKeithen about 10 p.m. Sunday and shot the officer several times.

The suspect ran away after the shooting, Papania said.

The officer was taken to the nearby Merit Health Biloxi, where he was pronounced dead.

A community memorial service in honor and memory of McKeithen is at 6 p.m. Tuesday outside the Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center on Porter Avenue.

The funeral service will be Monday at First Baptist Church Biloxi.

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