Killing of Biloxi officer sends shockwaves through Washington

Killing of Biloxi officer sends shockwaves through Washington
Law enforcement officers, community members, coworkers, and McKeithen's family gathered Tuesday evening to remember the slain Biloxi Police officer. (Source: Photo WLOX)

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Police officer safety is in the spotlight in Washington following the killing of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithen. As the community continues to deal with the loss, leaders in our nation’s capital are responding to the shooting.

“It’s a heck of a job and you know you put yourself in harm’s way but you do it willingly because you want to make your town or your city or your society better,” said Gerry Neill, a 30-year police force veteran in Washington.

McKeithe was shot and killed outside his police department on Sunday. Neill says this is a terrible trend.

“We’re going to have more of those incidents unfortunately,” said Neill.

Neill wants people to understand that officers are trying to help, but he understands it is a two-way street. Neill says his career was full of danger. His most important job, he says, was getting to know his beat and making positive contact with locals.

“You try to make a difference. You know, just being in the community and saying, ‘Hello.’ Walking up and talking to the guys hanging on the corner. That says something,” said Neill.

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) says his community is still shocked by the loss. He says officers in his district have great relationships with their people.

“I think this is a one-off incidence of violence,” said Palazzo.

Palazzo does not think the shooting is representative of the city. He says he is mainly concerned that violence against a Biloxi officer could lead residents to second guess their safety.

“When the guy that’s actually there to protect us is the one that’s harmed it just sends a different message. But we are a strong community,” said Palazzo.

Darian Atkinson, 19, is accused of shooting Officer McKeithen on May 5 outside the Biloxi Police Department. He was arrested the day after the shooting in Wiggins, Mississippi.

Darian’s brother Davian Atkinson, 21, is also in jail facing a charge of accessory after the fact in the death. In the arrest report, authorities said Davian Atkinson transported his brother after the shooting and allowed the 19-year-old to make phone calls while he was on the run from police.

Three additional suspects have been charged with accessory after the fact in the officer’s death. All are being held at the Harrison County Adult Detention Center.

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