Officer recovering, public help needed

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal Tupelo residents come together in front of First United Methodist Church in Tupelo on Thursday before entering to pay their respects to the family of Sgt. Gale Stauffer, who was killed in the line of duty on Monday.

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal
Tupelo residents come together in front of First United Methodist Church in Tupelo on Thursday before entering to pay their respects to the family of Sgt. Gale Stauffer, who was killed in the line of duty on Monday.

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – While one officer is slowly recovering from injuries sustained in Monday’s shooting, residents and the law enforcement community showed support for the family of another officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Wounded Tupelo Police Officer Joseph Maher, 27, was able to respond to questions and have his head elevated in his hospital bed but could not yet get out of bed, according to Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre, who visited Maher and his wife Thursday.

The same day Maher’s condition was updated from critical to stable, hundreds of law enforcement officers and civilians alike gathered at Tupelo’s First United Methodist Church to pay their respects to the family of Tupelo Police Sgt. Kevin “Gale” Stauffer. The 38-year-old officer was killed responding to the armed bank robbery at 430 S. Gloster St. near Crosstown.

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal Tupelo firefighters make their way past American flags lining the sidewalk in front of First United Methodist Church on Thursday for visitation of Sgt. Gale Stauffer.

Thomas Wells | Daily Journal
Tupelo firefighters make their way past American flags lining the sidewalk in front of First United Methodist Church on Thursday for visitation of Sgt. Gale Stauffer.

Daniel McMullen, FBI special agent in charge, said authorities are still searching for suspects after four days of investigating. He said they have followed every lead but are asking anyone who may have seen anything to call (800) 225-5324 with any information. The suspect or suspects used a dark gray sedan and were near Atlanta Bread Company when shots were fired before they fled eastbound on Carnation Street between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton also is pleading for the public to come forward with information, and he encouraged anyone who is unable to attend Stauffer’s funeral service this morning to show support by lining the route of the funeral procession at 11:45 a.m.

The procession will leave First United Methodist Church on Main Street going west to Gloster Street where it will turn north on Gloster Street, west on Jackson Street, north on Clayton Avenue, west onto Woodlawn Street and then north onto Joyner Street.

Main Street will be closed from Front Street to Madison Street from 8 a.m. until after the procession. Joyner Street will be closed from Jackson Street to Fletcher Street beginning at noon.

City officials are asking residents along Woodlawn Street to refrain from parking in the street between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

During the memorial, Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will handle law enforcement duties inside the city of Tupelo.

“I hope everyone can line the procession route in a show of patriotism and support for Sergeant Stauffer’s family,” Shelton said.

jb.clark@journalinc.com