Suspect threatened Obama, released from prison in July

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Crime StockBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Oklahoma man identified Sunday as responsible for murdering a Tupelo police officer and critically wounding another last week had a history of a mental instability dating back at least three years.

Mario Edward Garnett, 40, of Oklahoma City, Okla., was charged with making threats against President Obama in 2010 on the White House website and sentenced to eight months in prison and three years’ supervised release. He was released from federal prison in July of this year after serving time for violating that supervised release.

He died Saturday in Phoenix, Ariz., in a shootout with police after he robbed a bank. FBI agents say he’s the same man who shot two Tupelo police officers – killing one – after a bank robbery on South Gloster Street on Dec. 23.

Garnett, who served four years in the Army, was originally sentenced on June 28, 2011, for threatening the president but didn’t serve the full prison sentence. It was not clear from an examination of court records how much of the sentence he actually served.

A federal judge placed Garnett on supervised home curfew three months after he was sentenced for telling his mental health counselor that he should be “put to death.”

“Instead of actively participating in treatment per condition, Mr. Garnett rants and makes threats,” Sept. 23, 2011, court records showed. Two months later Garnett was ordered back to prison.

Garnett left an Oklahoma federal prison six months ago and was no longer required to check in with a probation officer.

FBI investigators identified him as responsible for robbing a man at an Atlanta bank after attempting to rob the bank and then driving to Tupelo, where he shot and killed Sgt. Gale Stauffer and shot patrol officer Joe Maher, critically wounding him. FBI agents have given no explanation of why Garnett chose Tupelo as a location to rob a bank. No court documents or other materials available to the Daily Journal late Sunday indicated he had any connections to the city.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com