Suppressing tears and wearing black bands over their badges, police officers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Monday remembered two slain colleagues as young men who worked as if they'd landed their dream jobs.
One of them, 34-year-old married father of two Benjamin Deen, was a K-9 officer who loved busting drug dealers and won an "Officer of the Year" award in 2012 for saving a family from a burning building, fellow cops said at a Monday afternoon memorial service.
"I know today that Officer Benjamin Deen would do it all over again," Capt. Peggy Sealy said.
The other slain officer, Liquori Tate, was 25 and had only joined the force last summer. Members of his recruit class recalled his infectious enthusiasm, smiling through long runs and thousands of sit ups, and himj being unable to suppress the urge to hit the siren on a patrol car.
"Tate made sure the whole neighborhood knew he was on a traffic stop," Officer Jason Jarvis said. "I looked at Tate one day and asked, 'What is it with the sirens?' He said, 'Jarvis, I just love the way it makes me feel.'"
Deen and Tate were shot to death Saturday after Tate arrived to provide backup on a traffic stop. Four people have been arrested in the killings.
The suspects — Marvin Banks, 29, Joanie Calloway, 22; Curtis Banks, Marvin's 26-year-old brother; and Cornelius Clark, 28 — appeared in court following the memorial service.
Marvin Banks, the alleged shooter, has been charged with two counts of capital murder and was denied bail, local NBC affiliate WDAM reported. Curtis Banks, charged as an accessory, is being held on two bonds, one for a prior drug charge, one related to the police deaths. Calloway, who was initially charged with two counts of capital murder, saw her charges downgraded Monday to accessory to capital murder after the fact and is being held on $75,000 bond. Clark is charged with obstruction of justice and is being held on $75,000 bond.
Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said investigators were still trying to determine the motive behind the shooting. Both officers, he said, we wearing bullet-resistant vests when they were shot.
At the memorial, Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, clearly shaken, said he hoped the officers' families knew that the police force, and the city, loved them.
"They made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the people of this city, some they did not, and would never, know," DuPree said. "Because it was their job. It was their duty. It was their code."