(Tupelo, MS) It’s believed the man who shot and killed Tupelo Sergeant Gale Stauffer and seriously hurt Officer Joseph Maher is dead, shot and killed during a shootout with Phoenix, Arizona police as he attempted to rob a bank there.
In a news conference Sunday morning, the FBI unraveled the latest in this investigation.
Phoenix police identified the man as 40-year-old Mario Edward Garnett.
Sunday, Sergeant Stauffer’s wife thanked investigators and the community for helping her family during this tragedy.
“Today is another very emotional day in the life of our family. We can truly begin the healing process,” said Beth Stauffer.
Sunday, she spoke publicly about the support she has received over the past week.
“We know we have not been going through this alone. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for shining a light in this time of darkness,” said Stauffer.
Sergeant Stauffer and Officer Joseph Maher were responding to a bank robbery last Monday when police say the masked robber fired an assault rifle at the officers before taking off in his car.
“It took from us the joys of Christmas in this special time of the holiday season,” said Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.
Just days later, fellow officers said goodbye to Stauffer at his funeral and linked the suspect to another bank robbery in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Numerous people didn’t get to celebrate Christmas with their families because they were busy trying to bring peace to our families,” expressed Stauffer.
Now there is more peace for the family as Phoenix police believe they shot and killed the suspect during a police shootout.
Federal investigators say that suspect wore the same clothing and said the same thing during the robbery as the suspect in Tupelo and Atlanta.
“The cell phone records of the subject indicated his phone was in Atlanta, Tupelo and Phoenix,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Dan McMullen.
Even though the suspect is believed to be dead, police say the investigation is far from over. Officer Maher remains in the hospital.
“Please continue your prayers for Joseph Maher and his family. The road is just as long,” said Stauffer.
Beth Stauffer says her family`s journey continues, but right now it’s a little easier.
“Gale would have been proud,” said Stauffer.
Right now, investigators are not releasing the name of the suspect.