POPLARVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Gov. Phil Bryant Thursday called two slain Hattiesburg police officers heroes and advised graduates at Pearl River Community College to look to them for inspiration in their lives. Bryant was keynote speaker at PRCC's annual Commencement Exercise in Poplarville.
"Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate dedicated their powers for good," said Bryant. "They lost their lives serving people they did not know, making sure they protected the families, the men and women and children of Hattiesburg, Mississippi until their deaths," he said. He added, "They showed us what heroes can be."
Officers Deen and Tate were shot to death during a routine traffic stop in Hattiesburg last Saturday night. Five suspects are in jail in connection with the officers' murders.
Meanwhile, nearly 400 students received either certificates of proficiency, associate in arts degrees or associate in applied science degrees at the commencement ceremony, which was the first to take place in the new Marvin R. White Coliseum. The old facility was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.
"I'm really excited to be graduating with my fellow classmates and to finally be done," said Kaitlin Cooper, a graduate who also delivered the invocation to begin the commencement.
"I feel great, (it's) a huge privilege, a huge honor, words don't really describe how I feel right now," said Keegan Hall, another graduate.
Cooper and Hall were among 22 PRCC Honor Institute graduates at Thursday's ceremony,