(TULEPO, Miss.) — As the manhunt for a killer expands to a nationwide dragnet to find the suspected bank robber, who fatally shot a Mississippi police officer two days before Christmas, residents held a candlelight vigil for the gunned-down officer.
Earlier this week, residents in Tupelo, Miss., held the vigil for Officer Gale Stauffer, who, along with another officer, was hit by gunfire Monday when they confronted suspected bank robbers during their getaway. Flags were lowered to half-staff in memory of officer Stauffer, an army veteran of the Iraq War, and father of two young children.
“I’m at peace knowing Gale died doing what he loved,” his wife, Beth, said.
A funeral service for Stauffer will take place Friday. Stauffer’s mother, Debbie Brangenberg, acknowledged those who came to remember her son.
“The overwhelming love and support that this community has given us has helped us make it through,” she said.
Stauffer was a combat veteran of the Louisiana Army National Guard, and he had served with the Tupelo Police Department for eight years, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The wounded police officer is getting better, slowly, and his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious.
There’s now an $152,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the bank robbers-turned-killers as the search for them expands.
Police are not even sure how many suspects they’re looking for, and are hoping that someone saw something in the bloody aftermath of that bank robbery — or took a cellphone photo — something that just might help investigators.
As the officers approached the suspects in a vehicle, which was stuck in traffic at a railroad crossing, at least one of the suspects opened fire at close range, according to an account posted online on the Officer Down Memorial Page.
After reviewing bank surveillance video from the robbery of a BancorpSouth bank in Tupelo, authorities are looking for a thin, possibly African-American man with a light complexion, standing between 5-feet-9 and 6-feet tall, according to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
The suspect seen in the surveillance video was wearing khaki or cargo-style pants, white Converse tennis shoes, a long-sleeved jacket and a blue ski mask, the state public safety department said. A charcoal-colored, medium-size sedan might have been used as a getaway car.
Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI’s tip line at 800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324).
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