A Mississippi police office, Gale Stauffer, was laid to rest on Friday, four days after he was shot and killed by a strongly armed bank robber who is still at large. Dozens of police officers from many miles surrounding the Tupelo, Mississippi area came to attend Officer Stauffer’s funeral.
The major expression of support for the murdered police officer has now helped fuel an intense manhunt in which the police are looking for a lean built bank robber. The investigators think the man unsuccessfully attempted to try and rob a bank in Atlanta on Monday, and then moved on to Mississippi. There it is believed the same individual allegedly shot and killed Officer Stauffer, while also injuring his partner before the subject took off and disappeared.
A reward of $100,000 is being put up for evidence which proves in a conviction. The FBI has stated that the suspect is about 5 ft. 8″ to 6 ft. tall and has a slim build. He was last wearing a facemask, a jacket or shirt that had some sort of “Aztec” pattern on it, khaki pants and tennis shoes which appeared to be akin to a brand of Converse. The suspect’s vehicle was described as being a gray sedan, quite possibly a later model Chrysler 200.
The search for the gunman, which now encompasses over hundreds of police officers across state lines, is far from being the first of its kind this year. The United States has seen many acts of immense police coordination.
The year started out with a manhunt in February for ex-cop Christopher Dorner, who had murdered four individuals after declaring personal warfare against the Los Angeles Police. That hunt ended up taking several days to resolve and ended with Dorner dying inside a cabin which was on fire after police had him surrounded.
In April, an unparalleled manhunt occurred after the Boston Marathon bombings, when the whole town of Watertown, Massachusetts was under lock down for an entire day before police could find bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He was hiding inside a boat on the outskirts of the city.
The search which is going on right now in the South has not yet gotten as much attention, but police departments all across America are being told to go on high alert. Residents are also being instructed to be on the lookout for the suspect. Mississippi State Police did not have any information pertaining to the possibility about the suspect being located in Chicago or Indianapolis.
In Mississippi, emotions are running hard at the end of a rough week for a city which is known mainly for its closeness to the Natchez Trace and the expertise of makers of furniture there. Officer Stauffer, who was in his 30’s, was the very first Tupelo officer to be killed in the line of duty.
Officer Stauffer and his partner, Officer Joseph Mahr, had just gotten out of their patrol car after responding to an emergency call about a bank robbery at a Bancorp bank branch in Tupelo. Police investigators stated that the gunman was armed with an assault rifle, so he was able to ambush the two officers as they moved toward him. He shot each of them at close range. It is believed that Officer Mahr is expected to fully recover from his injuries.
Officer Stauffer funeral was attended to by thousands of individuals. The police memorial procession, in Tupelo, ended up passing Stauffer’s own home and also even came within a few hundred yards of where the shooting scene occurred. The Mississippi police officer will be sorely missed.
By Kimberly Ruble