JACKSON, Miss. - Authorities investigating the shooting of two Tupelo, Miss., police officers and the robbery of a bank have released a photo of a potential person of interest.
One police officer was killed and the other was critically injured after the robbery at a BancorpSouth branch in Tupelo on Monday.
Late Tuesday, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety released an image of a man in a security video. He is said to be in a convenience store not far from where the shooting occurred Monday afternoon. Officials are hoping that the public can help them identify the man in the photo.
Sgt. Gale Stauffer, 38, was killed when he responded to the bank robbery at BancorpSouth. Eyewitnesses said he and Officer Joseph Mahr, 27, got out of their cars in traffic and advanced toward a vehicle when they were ambushed by a gunman who shot them both at point-blank range. The man escaped in a car police believed to be a dark gray Dodge Stratus.
Stauffer, the first Tupelo police officer killed in the line of duty, was promoted posthumously Tuesday to the rank of sergeant, effective the day before his death. At the time of his death, he had the rank of corporal.
Mahr has been in critical condition, but doctors hope he will recover, as he is showing signs of improvement.
Since the incident, the FBI, the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Lee County (Miss.) Sheriff's Department, the Tupelo Police Department and U.S. Marshals have been among the agencies searching for the escaped suspect or suspects.
The reward for information leading to the capture of the suspect or suspects is more than $160,000. Tupelo businesses added to the $50,000 offered by the FBI and $50,000 offered by BancorpSouth.
Authorities say the alleged suspect is 5-foot-9 to 6-feet tall with a thin build. He may be black, and he has a light complexion. Police believe he is left-handed and could be injured. Witnesses said the suspect has a unique accent and may not be from the area. He was last seen wearing a ski mask, khaki pants, white Converse-type shoes and a long-sleeved shirt or jacket with a light-colored Aztec design.
Funeral services for Stauffer will be held Friday at the First United Methodist Church in Tupelo. He will be buried with military and law enforcement honors. Stauffer had served in the National Guard.
The family requests that memorials be made to the Stauffer Children's Educational Fund. Stauffer was the father of two children. Donations can be made at any BancorpSouth location or to First United Methodist Church.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)