Manhunt for 'Armed and Dangerous' Suspect Underway After Police Officer Is Killed in the Line of Duty

Police agencies in Mississippi were searching Friday for a 31-year-old man accused of killing a police officer and a pregnant woman.

Meridian Police Officer Kennis Croom and the unidentified woman were shot and killed around 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Meridian, according to WTOK-TV. The woman’s unborn child apparently died as well.

Dante Marquez Bender, 31, was being sought in connection with the crime, according to police.

The suspect, who is 5 feet 11 and 299 pounds, is wanted by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, the report said.

The Mississippi Department of Public safety said Bender “may be armed and dangerous.”

Police said he was last seen driving a 2004 Black Nissan Armada with a tag reading “IMANI.”

Details about the shooting had not been released as of early Friday.

The Mississippi crime website Darkhorse Press said it was by a source that the woman had been killed when Croom arrived on the scene. The site said four children were in danger when Croom intervened. That account could not be confirmed early Friday.

Lauderdale County Coroner Clayton Cobler said the officer had been shot during a domestic violence call, the Meridian Star reported.

The Rankin County Sheriff’s Office has sent personnel to assist in the search, Sheriff Bryan Bailey said, according to WLBT-TV in Jackson.

“Every time an officer is killed, regardless of if you knew them well or not, it’s a tragedy the same as losing a family member. Our heart is broken for his family and the Meridian Police Department,” Bailey said.

Croom grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, according to

“Our thoughts are with the Croom family and the men and women of the Meridian Police Department tonight and in the coming days, weeks and months as they struggle to heal from this tragedy,” the Tuscaloosa Police Department said in a statement.

“Officer Croom served his community bravery and selflessness,” the department said. “His sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

Croom also formerly worked for the Jackson Police Department in Mississippi.

Jackson Police Chief James Davis said the department was “indeed fortunate that we got an opportunity to work with a passionate officer like him.”

“To the family of Officer Croom, I am praying for your strength during the time of immense sorrow. I know there are no words that can ease your pain,” Davis said. “I will pray daily that you find solace in his memory.

“He will truly be missed. He is a hero forever.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.