HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - It might have been a memorial, but it wasn't a somber occasion. Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the fallen officer's courageousness and sacrifices to protect their community.
The small makeshift memorial grew in size as dozens brought their mementos to the site where two Hattiesburg police officers were slain in the line of duty a year ago.
"I have to pass by the makeshift everyday because I have a client over here, and when I pass by I can't help but to say a prayer and lift it up to the Lord," said Hattiesburg resident Theresa Jones.
The impact of the murders of officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate could be felt far and wide, but the Hattiesburg community rallied together like no one could imagine.
"They're still sending gift baskets to the police department to show their support to the police department. So, when you say the community has come together, the community has truly come together over this tragedy," said former Captain Peggy Sealy.
Officer Liquori Tate's step-father, Bernell Lonnie Ross, has since moved to Jackson, but when he goes to Hattiesburg to visit, he says he receives the warmest of welcomes.
"Its been this way the entire time since the night of the tragedy. They've been there. We didn't know how to react what to do. They just have always been there for us," said Ross.
For the Deen family, they describe this past year as a horrible nightmare, but say if it wasn't for the community support things could be way worse.
"We've had so much community support and it does makes us feel better. We miss our son terribly. It's a pain that never goes away," said Mary Ellen Deen.
On Saturday, May 14th, the first Fallen Officer 5K will be held in Biloxi. The event was started to honor the lives of those killed in the line of duty. Events will kick off at 3:00 p.m. at the Biloxi Town Green.