Manhunt intensifies for Mississippi bank robber suspected in cop’s death

December 28, 2013

The FBI is seeking the public’s help in locating a man accused of fatally shooting a police officer and wounding another while fleeing the scene of a bank robbery in Mississippi.

Authorities say the suspect wanted in connection with Monday’s fatal bank robbery in Tupelo also tried to rob a bank in Atlanta on the same day. The FBI released a wanted poster Friday showing the suspect wearing a facemask, a patterned jacket, khaki pants, and tennis shoes.

The suspect is described as about 5-feet, 8-inches tall to 6 feet tall with a slender build, the FBI said. Authorities believe the suspect fled in a grey sedan.

Police Sgt. Kevin “Gale” Stauffer died from gunshot wounds Monday at age 38. Law enforcement from as far away as Florence, Alabama, Jackson and Memphis, as well as local law enforcement, attended his funeral on Friday.

Also shot was Officer Joseph Maher, 27. Police Chief Bart Aguirre said Maher’s wife reported he has greatly improved over the last two days and was able to walk with assistance.

When asked about a possible suspect in Chicago, Highway Patrol Trooper Ray Hall told The Daily Journal he couldn’t release any information and no formal charges have been filed. Still, he said, investigators are following some good leads.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said billboards were made and will be posted in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas to get the word and photos out. He also asked the public not to rely on social media for their news.

“We thank everyone for support and prayers,” he said. “We are asking that because of social networking that any information that is obtained by any source other than that of officials working this case to be considered non-reliable. Please use caution if posting information due to the safety of the officers that are still working to apprehend the person or persons responsible.”

Stauffer’s family said the strength of the community is helping them get through this rough time.

“Everybody has been so wonderful to us through this week. And, the overwhelming love and support that this community has given us has helped us make it through,” his mother, Debbie Brangenberg, told WTVA-TV in Tupelo.

Stauffer’s wife, Beth, says it’s her strong faith that keeps her standing and says she’ll never give up.

“I have my moments. But, I’m at peace with Gale because I know he died doing something he loved. The way he was at work as a leader is what he was like at home,” Beth Stauffer said.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the identification and arrest of the man responsible for the shooting. Anyone in the area with pictures or information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers of Northeast Mississippi at 1-800-773-TIPS or the FBI’s Tip Line at 1-800-CALL-FBI.