BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Police have captured and arrested 19-year-old Darian Tawan Atkinson.
Atkinson is the man accused of killing a Biloxi police officer. Police say he will be charged with capital murder.
Officials say Atkinson was arrested in Wiggins, MS. He can be seen smiling as he is escorted into Biloxi police headquarters. But Biloxi Police Chief John Miller says he is not bothered by his smile.
Chief Miller says there will be another charge of accessory. Police believed Atkinson was being helped while he was on the run.
As for what’s next, police will build their case against Atkinson.
“Next, we want to make sure we have a solid case. We want this guy to pay for what he’s done,” Miller said.
Atkinson was spotted by an officer, who was headed home in Wiggins. He called Wiggins police, and they made the arrest.
Investigators have located the vehicle reportedly used to take Darian Atkinson to Wiggins. Crime scene experts are processing it.
Before Atkinson’s arrest, Biloxi Police Chief John Miller, Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson and Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania all stood at the front of a room at the Lopez Quave Public Safety Center on Porter Avenue just before 6 p.m. to give the latest updates in a news conference on the investigation into the shooting death of Officer McKeithen.
Sheriff Peterson urged for people to come forward with information about Atkinson’s whereabouts.
“We don’t know his actions. We don’t know what he’s going to do. That’s why we’ve been asking from the very beginning for the public to give him up,” said Sheriff Peterson. “If you’re hiding him, as a family member of friend, you’re going to be charged.
Officers were certain Atkinson would be captured.
I have no doubt that we will take him into custody,” said Chief Papania. “We want it. Our community wants it, and I hope he wants it.”
Chief Papania wanted to make sure the public was aware that anyone helping Atkinson will also be charged.
“If there’s somebody or a group that is causing us not to do it (locate Atkinson). They will answer for their sins,” he reiterated.
All three men honed in on their gratitude of the community’s efforts.
SWAT teams from multiple agencies, including the FBI, spent nearly two hours with their weapons drawn at the apartment complex on Popps Ferry Road. Police cleared the scene, leaving the apartment complex, just after 1 p.m.
The search for Atkinson has taken police to various locations around Biloxi, all in an effort to find the man authorities say shot Officer Robert McKeithen.
Biloxi Police Officer McKeithen was killed Sunday night outside the Lopez Quave Public Safety Center on Porter Avenue. That’s the main headquarters for the Biloxi Police Department.
This is surveillance footage of Atkinson just what police are describing as an ambush. When he approached the officer, he was wearing a black T-shirt, navy blue shorts and a rolled up red skull beanie. He also had dark high tops with red heel caps.
Before the shooting, Chief Miller said Atkinson entered the police department. Authorities released surveillance photos of when he walked through the front doors.
Investigators say Atkinson approached Officer McKeithen outside the building in the parking lot, opening fire and shooting the officer multiple times.
McKeithen was on-duty and in uniform at the time.
“The animal that did this is still on the run. and we’re going to do everything within our power to bring him to justice for Robert and his family and for the men and women in the police department and for the citizens of Biloxi,” said Chief Miller.
According to Chief Miller, first responders rushed the officer to Merit Health. The chief was there just before midnight when he received the news that Officer McKeithen had died in the emergency room.
Officer Robert McKeithen was a 24-year veteran of Biloxi Police Department, and close to retirement. Read more details from Monday morning’s news conference here: https://bit.ly/2JkRiuK
Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Homes is handling the arrangements for Officer McKeithen. Visitation will be Monday, May 13 from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Biloxi. The funeral service will be at 12:30 p.m. The burial will be at 2:30 p.m. at Biloxi National Cemetery.
If you have any information that may lead to his whereabouts, call Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at (877) 787-5898.
So far, $35,000 in rewards has been offered in this investigation. The FBI is offering $20,000. The U.S. Marshals Service is offering $10,000 and Crime Stoppers is offering $10,000.