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Sheriff’s deputy among 8 killed in Mississippi lauded as ‘a hero’

BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and others on Thursday saluted a sheriff’s deputy who was among the eight people killed in a series of shootings Saturday and Sunday.

Nearly a thousand police officers, family members and others gathered Thursday for the funeral and burial of Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr.

Speaking at Easthaven Baptist Church, Bryant recounted his own career as a deputy decades ago and saluted the courage of “that man with a badge,” telling Durr’s 10-year-old son Nash that his father “is a hero.” Bryant said Durr’s sacrifice will be remembered.

“William Durr will pass that torch onto another,” Bryant said. “There will be another man or woman in uniform, but they will take up William’s torch. They will defend, they will pursue, they will light the way.”

Investigators say Durr was shot and killed by Willie Cory Godbolt after being called to a dispute over Godbolt’s children. Investigators say Godbolt killed Durr and three in-laws, then killed four people at two additional homes. Funerals are scheduled Saturday, Sunday and Monday for Barbara Mitchell, 55; Brenda May, 53; Toccara May, 35; Austin Edwards, 11; Jordan Blackwell, 18; Ferral Burage, 45; and Shelia Burage, 46.

Godbolt is charged with one count of capital murder in Durr’s death and seven counts of first degree murder. He is jailed without bail in a neighboring county and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Hundreds of police officers filled the sanctuary Thursday and overflowed into the lobby, filling doorways and aisles and embracing in the parking lot.

The Rev. Billy Joe Deer remembered Durr as someone who “was about helping people.”

“He was never too busy to talk to you, to listen to you and to help you,” Deer told mourners.

More than 30 motorcycle officers and 150 police vehicles were in the procession from the church to a cemetery at Moak’s Creek Baptist Church, where Durr was a member. People lined roads, saluting as the hearse went by. A fire engine ladder truck and vehicles hoisted American flags over the road.

In the cemetery, officers and other mourners stood in long lines in a field as they awaited the hearse. A Mississippi Highway Patrol honor guard stood by to fire a salute as the casket was buried.