OAK GROVE, MS (WLOX) - Benjamin Deen. 34 years old, a father, a friend, a fixture on the Hattiesburg police force.
Thursday, Deen was laid to rest. And the community he served is left coming to grips with his murder in the line of duty.
The pews at Temple Baptist Church on the outskirts of Hattiesburg were packed. Officers from the Hattiesburg Police Department and representatives from agencies from across the state and region came together to remember a brother in blue who died far too soon.
"On Saturday, May 9, I lost a brother," Hattiesburg Police Chief Frank Misenhelter told the crowd. "On Saturday, May 9, the city of Hattiesburg and the nation lost a hero."
If you knew Benjamin Deen, you called him BJ.
If you worked with him patrolling the streets of Hattiesburg, you called him "Country."
"He made me want to be a better cop because he had such a strong work ethic and passion for the job," Misenhelter said.
Officer Deen was a six year veteran of the Hattiesburg Police Department. He was also a son, a brother, a husband, a father, and a friend.
"If you were ever BJ's friend, guess what? You were always BJ's friend," Rev. Jerry Jones recalled. "The man could laugh at anything. It didn't matter what it was, if you fell down, he would laugh. If you had a mishap, he would laugh. He enjoyed life and he enjoyed laughter."
The speakers at Officer Deen's funeral reminded everyone about his devotion to family, to duty, and to service. And they talked at length about the hope he inspired in everybody he met.
"BJ was passionate about being a cop. Enthusiastic. He loved doing what he did every day. This was his calling," Misenhelter said.
Among the mourners inside Temple Baptist Church were family members of Liquori Tate, the other officer gunned down Saturday night.
"Can I tell you want the Deen family said when we gathered at their home preparing for this day? They said, 'Please make sure people know how much BJ loved Liquori, Officer Tate. That they trained together, they worked together, they served together, they sacrificed together, and they went to heaven together,'" Rev. Dwayne Higgason said. "May we all as a community have a revival of faith. For BJ is an example to us all. Not just of what it means to be a law enforcement officer, but what it means to be a man. What it means to be a human being."
"He was a protector, protecting the innocent against oppressors," said Misenhelter. "The weak against oppressors and intimidation. And the peaceful against violence and disorder. You see BJ, he stood for what was right in America."