Wounded Police Officer Identified ….Suspect Still At Large

by Staff
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TUPELO- Tuesday, December 24, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety released an image of a man in a security video.  He is said to be in a Storyconvenience store not far from where the shooting occurred Monday afternoon. Officials are hoping that the public can help them identify the man in the photo.

Gale Stauffer

Sergeant Gale Stauffer

Sergeant Gale Stauffer, 38, was killed when he responded to the bank robbery at BancorpSouth.  Eyewitnesses said he and Officer Joseph Mahr, 27, got out of their cars in traffic and advanced toward a vehicle when they were ambushed by a gunman who shot them both at point-blank range.  The man escaped in a car police believed to be a dark gray Dodge Stratus.

Stauffer, the first Tupelo police officer killed in the line of duty, was promoted posthumously Tuesday to the rank of sergeant, effective the day before his death.   At the time of his death, he had the rank of corporal.

Since the incident, the FBI, the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Lee County  Sheriff’s Department, the Tupelo Police Department and U.S. Marshals have been among the agencies searching for the escaped suspect or suspects.

The reward for information leading to the capture of the suspect or suspects is more than $160,000. Tupelo businesses added to the $50,000 offered by the FBI and $50,000 offered by BancorpSouth.

Authorities say the person of interest is 5-foot-9 to 6-feet tall with a thin build. He may be black, and he has a light complexion. Police believe he is left-handed and could be injured. Witnesses said the suspect has a unique accent and may not be from the area. He was last seen wearing a ski mask, khaki pants, white Converse-type shoes and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket with a light-colored Aztec design.

Funeral services for Stauffer will be held Friday, December 27  at the First United Methodist Church in Tupelo.  He will be buried with military and law enforcement honors.  Stauffer had served in the National Guard.

The family requests that memorials be made to the Stauffer Children’s Educational Fund. Stauffer was the father of two children. Donations can be made at any BancorpSouth location or to First United Methodist Church.

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