• FBI: Accused cop killer, bank robber identified


    ATLANTA, Ga. - The nationwide manhunt for an accused cop killer is over.

    Mario Edward Garnett has been identified as the man responsible for the crimes, the FBI announced Sunday evening.

    Channel 2 Action News obtained new information Sunday on the suspect's death and the crime spree that spanned several states, beginning in Atlanta.

    The FBI's statement came hours after Phoenix police shot and killed a suspect after Saturday's bank robbery attempt. Investigators believe Garnett also tried to rob a Bank of America in Buckhead on Monday, hours before he allegedly shot the two officers in Tupelo, Miss.

    "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, (Miss.), the shooting of Officer Joseph Maher, and the murder of Officer Gale Stauffer," the Jackson, Miss., FBI bureau said in an email statement.

    The FBI says evidence linked Garnett to all three crimes.

    The FBI said Garnett's unique clothing and other details, like objects he used to prop open doors in the banks and even words he used in all of the robberies, matched up.

    Authorities say they are still processing evidence, but the cellphone records investigators have already gone over proves he was in each spot at the time of the crimes.

    “The FBI obtained a court order to review the cellphone records of the subject, which indicated his phone was in Atlanta, Tupelo, Miss., and Phoenix at the time of the robberies," said FBI official Daniel McMullen.

    On Monday afternoon, the suspect stole an undisclosed amount of money from the BancorpSouth in Tupelo before fleeing in a grey sedan, according to McMullen.

    Officers Gale Stauffer and Joseph Maher were responding to a bank alarm and a report that the suspect had fled in a white SUV when they spotted such a vehicle stalled in traffic, McMullen said. The officers were confronting the SUV's driver when the suspect exited the gray sedan, which was stopped behind the SUV, and ambushed the officers, according to McMullen.

    Stauffer died and was buried Friday after 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 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 after someone reported seeing a man run into the bank while wearing a mask.

    The first officer to arrive 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.

    A detective who had just arrived at the scene shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead after being taken to a Phoenix hospital.

    Holmes said no officers or bank employees were injured. He says the two officers involved will be placed on standard administrative leave.

    Meanwhile, the case remains under investigation.

    "This investigation is not over," McMullen said at a news conference in Tupelo. "There are numerous leads which we must continue to follow and questions which we must answer."

    Stay with Channel 2 Action News for updates on this developing story.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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