The town of Tupelo, Mississippi, is mourning the death of Police Officer Gale Stauffer who was shot and killed during a bank robbery on Monday, December 23rd. The individual responsible for the crime was concealed behind a mask before walking into BanCorpSouth's Gloster Creek Village branch wielding a AK-47 assault rifle. When two police officers arrived at the scene, the individual fired at both and killed Stauffer.
Though details are still emerging about this incident, the community has been shattered by the tragedy. Tupelo resident Matt Lavender said, ”I’m glad they’re actually doing something about it. It takes a special breed of person actually to do something that low.”
Kenny Steen heard the blasts from the rifle and recalled his experience. “We heard some, just a real, ‘burr, burr’ real fast, so we came out and there was cop cars coming they stopped right here in the street. Soon as I came out, there was an officer actually falling, going down,” Steen said.
”It’s scary. It’s sad. It makes me not want to go in the bank with my children anymore," said Heather Krutz, who was in the vicinity of the bank when the robbery occurred.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is presently working on the case, and has already interviewed a person of interest located in Union County. The home and vehicle were both adequately searched; however, investigators released the person of interest.
Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton acknowledged the community's grief at losing such a valuable member, and spoke about a vigil to honor the brave man. ”There will be a vigil in Fairpark at 5 p.m. tomorrow, just to honor and bring the community together in honor of Sergeant Stauffer and pray for him and his family.”
Officer Stauffer's tragic death has left a wife without a husband and two children (a son and a daughter) without a father within days of the Christmas holiday.
A reward is being offered to catch the perpetrator where the amount continues to increase due to donations from local businesses and banks. The amount is presently close to $150,000.
Image Via NDN