Biloxi, MS - The suspect in the late night assassination of Biloxi Police Officer Robert McKeithan has been identified as Darian Atkinson.
The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward and the U.S. Marshals Service are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Atkinson's capture, according to WLOX. They are asking the public to spread the word about this killer.
The shooting occurred just after 10 p.m. on May 5 when the on-duty, uniformed officer was approached by an unidentified suspect in the parking lot of the Lopez Quave Public Safety Center on Porter Avenue, Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said, according to the Clarion Ledger.
The gunman then opened fire on the officer, shooting him multiple times before he fled the scene, WLOX reported.
The officer was rushed to Merit Health where he succumbed to his wounds just before midnight.
“It’s a very sad day for the city of Biloxi,” Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said during a press conference on Monday morning. “[Officer] Robert McKeithan… was murdered last night, right here in our parking lot.”
“The animal that did this is still on the run,” Chief Miller said.
Police released surveillance photos of the suspect, and have since identified him as 19-year-old Darian Tawan Atkinson.
There is now a warrant for Atkinson's arrest on charges of capital murder.
Chief Miller said that he did not have any details about the interaction between the officer and the gunman prior to the shooter opening fire, and it is unknown whether the attack was random or targeted.
“The assailant did enter the police department at one point,” Chief Miller noted, adding that the killer “seemed a bit nonchalant” about murdering the veteran officer.
The Gulfport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office are leading the ongoing investigation.
Chief Papania said that Officer McKeithan’s murder was a “deliberate and violent attack” and that local, state, and federal law enforcement officers have been working "around the clock" to apprehend his killer.
Officer McKeithan, a 24-year veteran of the BPD, was an “unbelievably fine policeman,” Chief Miller said.
“Robert was always a very pleasant person. I don’t remember him ever having a scowl on his face,” he added. “He had a style of his own… he just seemed to connect with people.”
He was also one of five officers who received the Medal of Valor for saving four special needs children who otherwise “undoubtedly would have perished,” the chief explained.
“That’s the kind of guy he was,” he said. “He was very gentle [and] likeable. He treated people with respect and dignity.”
Officer McKeithan, who was also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, planned to retire from the BPD at the end of 2019.
He leaves behind his wife, daughter, two stepsons, and a stepdaughter.
“He was a wonderful family man,” Chief Miller said. “I would ask that your prayers be with Robert and his family.”
Help spread the word on social media, and if you have any information about Atkinson's location, you can call Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at (877) 787-5898 or 911.