Louisiana police officer, 36, dies of coronavirus in Mississippi hospital; mayor says officer is ‘singing tonight in heaven’

Published 9:32 am Thursday, April 2, 2020

A 36-year-old Louisiana police officer has died in a Mississippi hospital from the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Adams County, Mississippi, Coroner James Lee confirmed the death (the county’s second) of Kejuane Bates, 36, of Vidalia, Louisiana, just across the Mississippi River from Natchez. Bates was being treated at Merit Health Natchez.

“My heart is very heavy right now,” Lee said. “I want Adams County to know that this virus is no joke. My heart goes out to this young man’s family.”

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The death was especially difficult for the long-time county coroner as he knew Bates personally.

Lee said he was good friends with Bates and the two hosted a joint revival together each year.

Bates worked for the Vidalia Police Department and also served as pastor of the Forest Aid Baptist Church in Natchez.

His death will be officially recorded as being a Louisiana coronavirus death as Bates lived in Louisiana.

Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill said in a social media post that the department was stunned by the loss.

“I am truly at a loss for words, we lost a wonderful officer and friend,” Merrill wrote. “Please pray for the family and our VPD family as we all take time to process this and continue to keep Vidalia safe.”

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft announced the death on social media.

“Not only was Kejuane Bates an employee of our Vidalia Police Department, he was instrumental in our community as a pastor and mentor to so many,” Craft wrote. “Our prayers are with his family, congregation, fellow workers, students and friends during this time. He will be missed. It would be his wish that we exhibit the life he has lived the faith we share in Jesus Christ. Please let us have hope that his passing will in fact save lives. Kejuane is singing tonight in heaven.”

The Natchez Democrat contributed to this article.