For the Rev. Paul Crowley, the heartache of tragically losing a friend, of losing someone like McKeithen, is a pain that will never go away.
“We hear so much about things in big cities across the country, and we’re disconnected from that, and then when it happens here, and it happens to someone that you know personally, it’s really devastating,” he said.
Crowley is pastor of Woolmarket Baptist Church, where McKeithen attended for several years.
The last time he saw the patrolman before his death was during a trip to Walmart.
“To know Robert, his personality was such that he would always put people at ease, and was interested in what was going on in your life. As he was that day in Walmart. We talked about my family, and my kids, because he had seen them growing up as well,” he said.
Just weeks later, Crowley was officiating McKeithen’s funeral, preaching a message of hope to a hurting crowd.
It's a day he won't forget.
“It’s kind of like Katrina. You kind of hope that if happens, it only happens once in a lifetime,” Crowley said. “Seeing the hurt in the family’s eyes, and his wife, and his children. Chief Miller and the other Biloxi police officers, to see the hurt and the heartache that’s there, but God was gracious to us that day. His grace and his mercy I think was evident."
Crowley said that same grace will help the Coast community move forward in such a difficult time.
“We need to be turning to Him and listening to what God has to say, and living a life that God wants us to live. Which is a life of love, and friendship and hospitality, and it’s a life where we treasure life, and value each other, and put others ahead of ourselves," he said.
A direct reflection, Crowley said, of McKeithen himself.