- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Gov. Phil Bryant and other Mississippi officials are honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Members of a Highway Patrol honor guard and relatives of fallen officers placed roses at a memorial display Tuesday at the patrol headquarters in Jackson.

They honored 28 Highway Patrol troopers and five Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents killed on the job since 1940. The most recent was MBN agent Lee Tartt, who was killed Feb. 20 when a six-hour standoff at a home in Luka ended in a shootout. Three Highway Patrol officers were injured in that shootout.

“They gave their lives to serve this great state and the citizens,” Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz told more than 200 people at the memorial service. “They made the ultimate sacrifice, and today we honor you for that sacrifice.”

Santa Cruz said he has had to call the families of officers who were killed, and “it never gets any easier.”

Bryant, who started his career as a deputy sheriff, had tears in his eyes as he said law enforcement officers put their own lives at risk to help others.

“We come, as we should, with heavy hearts, with bowed heads but with a feeling of pride - the pride to know that there are men and women that will sacrifice themselves for people they do not know or have never met or perhaps will ever see again,” Bryant said.

Lisa Hood is the widow of Highway Patrol Master Sgt. Steve Hood, who was killed May 29, 2009, during a high-speed pursuit. Their son, Matthew Hood, became a trooper four years ago in northeastern Mississippi, where his father had also worked.

“He always wanted to be like his dad,” Lisa Hood said after the memorial service.

Cousins Kawasaki Owens, 30, of Hattiesburg, and Adriana Owens, 27, of Clinton, placed a rose on the memorial to honor one of their relatives, trooper Tommie E. Owens, who was killed July 28, 1989, when his car was hit by a train in Lowndes County. He was 30.

Adriana Owens said she was only a few months old when the trooper was killed, but said she has heard about him from family members. Kawasaki Owens said he remembers being an eager 3-year-old when Tommie Owens taught him to skip a rock on a pond near a family home in Pheba.


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