UPDATE: Video – FBI Says Suspect Killed in Phoenix Robbery Likely Tied to Sgt. Stauffer’s Murder
TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — The FBI says clothing, an item used to block open doors at three different banks, and other evidence links a Hispanic male killed during a shootout with Phoenix, AZ. police Saturday to the deadly bank robbery in Tupelo last week and one in Atlanta.
The FBI held a press conference this morning to outline the details of the links between the three robberies. And the wife of the slain Tupelo police officer gave an emotional thank you for the work of everyone involved.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE:
THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE JUST RECEIVED FROM THE JACKSON, MS FIELD OFFICE. WCBI WILL HAVE MORE DETAILS AFTER A PRESS CONFERENCE SUNDAY MORNING IN TUPELO:
DECEMBER 28, 2013
UPDATE: Ongoing Investigation into Bank Robbery/Officer Involved Shooting There has been a significant development in regard to this investigation. Based upon information which has been developed over the course of this investigation, we believe that this suspect is the same individual who is responsible for the attempted bank robbery in Atlanta, the robbery of the BancorpSouth in Tupelo, the shooting of Officer Joseph Maher, and the murder of Officer Gale Stauffer. Earlier today, a bank robbery occurred in Phoenix, Arizona, at approximately 10 a.m. local Phoenix time. A male, 5’9”, with a light complexion, wearing a mask and displaying a handgun entered the bank, filled a bag with cash from the vault, and then fled. The robber encountered a Phoenix Police detective outside the bank and shots were fired. The bank robber was shot and killed in the exchange. Here’s a related story from WCBI’s sister station in Phoenix, Arizona: http://www.kpho.com/story/24319951/police-shoot-suspect-after-attempted-bank-robbery#.Ur_Fzvu5Qxc.email .
FROM PHOENIX, AZ: A suspect killed by Phoenix police in a bank robbery attempt is believed to be the same man accused in the shooting death of a Mississippi police officer and the wounding of another, the FBI said Sunday.
The statement came hours after Phoenix police shot and killed a suspect after Saturday’s bank robbery attempt.
“We believe that this suspect is the same individual who is responsible for the attempted bank robbery in Atlanta, the robbery of the BancorpSouth in Tupelo, (MS), the shooting of Officer Joseph Maher, and the murder of Officer Gale Stauffer,” the Jackson, MS., FBI bureau said in an email statement.
Both the Phoenix police and local FBI office declined to comment on Sunday’s FBI report from Mississippi. The FBI said more information would be provided later in the day in Tupelo. The slain suspect’s name has not been released.
The two officers were shot Monday afternoon by a fleeing suspect following the robbery of the Tupelo bank.
Stauffer died and was buried Friday following a funeral attended by as many as 1,000 people. Dozens of uniformed officers from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and elsewhere attended the service.
Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that Maher’s condition has improved and he was able to walk some with assistance on Friday. Maher moved out of the intensive care unit at North Mississippi Medical Center and into a private room.
The Phoenix shooting happened Saturday morning at a Compass Bank branch in the near-northwest part of the city.
A man going through a drive-thru restaurant across the street noticed a man with a mask entering the Compass Bank, and called police.
When police arrive, the suspect came out of the bank, threw a bag of cash into a rental car, then started firing at the officer. A robbery detective happened to be in the area, heard the radio call and responded.
The first officer to arrive at the scene near 34th Avenue and Thomas Road saw the man leave the bank with a bag and a handgun.
“The officer drew his service weapon and began giving the suspect commands at which time the suspect raised his weapon and began firing at the officer,” police spokesman officer James Holmes said in a statement.
The detective who had just arrived at the scene shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead after being taken to a Phoenix hospital.
“As that detective pulls on 34th Avenue in front of the bank, he sees the suspect firing at our officer, Holmes said. “The officer is trying to retreat and take cover, and at that point our detective drew his service weapon and he fired at the suspect.”
Holmes said no officers or bank employees were injured. He says the two officers involved will be placed on standard administrative leave.
The FBI in Mississippi said the suspect in the fatal police shooting was also believed to be involved in an Atlanta bank robbery. Surveillance photos show a man wearing a black-and-white patterned jacket tried to rob a Bank of America branch on Piedmont Road in Atlanta around 9:30 a.m. Monday. He was wearing a black ski mask and black gloves and carrying a handgun.
After failing to get any money from a teller, the man demanded and received an undisclosed amount of money from someone who was using an ATM in the bank’s lobby. The man was seen leaving in a light gray car with no license plate, possibly a Chrysler 200. Tupelo police believe the man was driving the same car there.
The FBI had offered a reward for information in the case of $100,000, which raised the total reward over $200,000.