Classmates of deceased police officer hold balloon release ceremony

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) – A class reunion in Tuscaloosa started on a sad and somber note this week. Classmates of Kennis Croom, a police officer from Meridian, Mississippi, who was shot in the line of duty on June 9, learned of his death a day before the festivities began.

Over the years, dozens of Paul W. Bryant High School graduates have gathered at Harmon Park in Tuscaloosa for a big class reunion on June 11, but it’s an absent alumnus who has drawn the most attention.

“It’s so sudden and sad. He meant a lot to everyone,” Ciera Anderson told WBRC.

Croom was a member of Bryant’s class of 2009.

“Man, he would go out of his way for people. It comes from his family, because they are quality people, ”explained his classmate Gary Woods.

No one was surprised that Croom risked his life to help others. They honored his sacrifice with a balloon release ceremony.

“We are doing this in his honor, his memory, to let us know that Kennis is a fallen hero. But he will forever remain in the heart of Paul W. Bryant High School,” said his friends and classmate John Epting.

They brought blue balloons from their school. Many of them were looking forward to seeing Croom again after years of separation.

“We had just spoken to him a few weeks ago and he had paid his dues to come,” Anderson added.

Classmates like Epting felt that a ceremony allowed them to grieve and support each other as Kennis would have wished.

“Kennis we love you, we say goodbye to you. We release these balloons into your memory,” Epting told the crown as they tossed balloons.

Croom’s funeral plans have yet to be released.

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