Police arrest 19-year-old for shooting death of Mississippi officer

Darryl Coote

May 7 (UPI) -- Following a nearly 24-hour manhunt, police arrested a 19-year-old man for the shooting death of a Mississippi police officer, authorities said.

Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said Darian Tawan Atkinson was arrested Monday night for allegedly killing Biloxi police officer Robert McKeithen in the parking lot of police headquarters the night previous.


"It's been a long couple of days," Miller said in a press conference Monday night that was broadcasted on the Gulf Port Police Department's Twitter page. "We feel vindicated. He's been treated proper. Fair. Now we grieve for the family."

Atkinson was charged with capital homicide of a law enforcement officer following Sunday's fatal shooting of McKeithen, a 24-year police veteran who was to retire at the end of the year.

McKeithen was shot multiple times shortly after 10 p.m. during what police described as an ambush, WLOX reported.

Miller said the motive of the attack was still unknown.

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Following McKeithen's death, a search along the Mississippi Gulf was conducted.

"The animal that did this is still on the run," Miller said Monday morning in a press conference. "And we're going to do everything within our power to bring him to justice for Robert and his family and for the men and women in the police department and for the citizens of Biloxi."


Police identified the suspect as Atkinson Monday night and that he was charged with capital murder.

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He was identified as 5 foot, 7 inches, wearing a red hat and a black T-shirt.

Various local and federal law enforcement agencies participated in the search and the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and Crime Stoppers offered cash rewards for help from the public in the investigation.

Atkinson was arrested in the city of Wiggins after he was spotted by a police officer who was heading home, Miller said.

He was smiling while being escorted under a heavy police presence into Biloxi police headquarters.

"Oh, the police are made at me," he said.

The investigation was being conducted by the Gulfport Police Department.

"Robert was an unbelievably fine policeman," Miller said. "He did a great job to take care of the citizens of Biloxi for almost 24 years."

Miller said McKeithen's death was the first of an active Biloxi police officer since 1970.

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