December 27, 2013 8:44:39 AM
TUPELO -- Police don't have a suspect yet in the death of one Tupelo police officer and the wounding of another, but authorities are chasing down leads and talking to people of interest, says Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Ray Hall.
Cpl. Kevin Gale Stauffer died from gunshot wounds Monday at age 38. He is scheduled to be buried Friday. A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday evening.
Also shot was Officer Joseph Maher, 27. He remained hospitalized Thursday at North Mississippi Medical Center. His condition was upgraded from critical to stable, Deputy Police Chief Allan Gilbert told The Daily Journal.
The robbers were still at large. On Tuesday, police released surveillance footage from a convenience store showing an unidentified man whom they said they want to interview.
Businesses and governments are offering a $162,500 reward for information related to the shootings and the robbery of a BancorpSouth bank.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen asked for the public's help in finding those involved with Monday's bank robbery and fatal shooting during a news briefing Thursday night.
Authorities believe the suspects fled in a grey sedan and asked anyone in the area with pictures or information to contact CrimeStoppers of Northeast Mississippi at 1-800-773-TIPS or the FBI's Tip Line at 1-800-CALL-FBI, WTVA-TV reports.
Police Chief Bart Aguirre, said investigators are making progress. He said tips are coming in to a hotline, and officers are looking at every lead.
"It's producing good intelligence and with that I think that we're getting closer to a final resolution soon, I hope," said Aguirre.
The case is being handled by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the FBI with additional law enforcement agencies offering assistance.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said billboards were made and will be posted in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas to get the word and photos out. He also asked the public not to rely on social media for their news.
"We thank everyone for support and prayers," he said. "We are asking that because of social networking that any information that is obtained by any source other than that of officials working this case to be considered non-reliable. Please use caution if posting information due to the safety of the officers that are still working to apprehend the person or persons responsible."
Stauffer's family said the strength of the community is helping them get through this rough time.
"Everybody has been so wonderful to us through this week. And, the overwhelming love and support that this community has given us has helped us make it through," his mother, Debbie Brangenberg, told WTVA-TV in Tupelo.
Stauffer's wife, Beth, says it's her strong faith that keeps her standing and says she'll never give up.
"I have my moments. But, I'm at peace with Gale because I know he died doing something he loved. The way he was at work as a leader is what he was like at home," Beth Stauffer said.
Stauffer's memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church. Burial with military and law enforcement honors will follow the service at the Tupelo Memorial Park in Tupelo.
Mayor Jason Shelton is encouraging anyone who is unable to attend to line the funeral procession route at 11:45 a.m. to show support for Stauffer's family.
During the memorial, Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Lee County Sheriff's Office will handle law enforcement duties inside the city of Tupelo.