FBI Phoenix to Honor Witnesses to Bank Robbery
On December 23, 2013, suspect Mario Garnett attempted to rob a bank in Atlanta, Georgia. The attempt failed so, instead, Garnett robbed a citizen at an ATM. On that same day, Garnett robbed a bank in Tupelo, Mississippi, and subsequently shot two Tupelo police officers while escaping the area. Officer Gale Stauffer was fatally wounded, and Officer Joseph Maher was critically wounded but survived the attack.
On December 28, 2013, Garnett robbed the BBVA Compass Bank on W. Thomas Road and N. 31st Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. During the robbery, witness Richard Bounds contacted 9-1-1 to alert law enforcement of the robbery and continued to stay on the phone with 9-1-1 until officers arrived. A second witness (anonymous) entered the bank while it was being robbed and managed to escape, run to her car, and call the police. Phoenix Police Officer Ty Wilson arrived at the bank just as Garnett was exiting, and Garnett immediately fired his handgun at the officer. Phoenix Police Detective Fabian Gonzalez was in the vicinity working another matter when he responded to the dispatch call of a possible robbery at the bank. Detective Gonzales arrived in time to see Garnett firing upon Officer Wilson, and the detective was able to shoot and kill the suspect.
At the onset of this bank robbery investigation, Phoenix FBI Bank Robbery Task Force and Phoenix Police Detective Ray O’Neill recognized similarities in the method of operation from the bank robbery descriptions disseminated by FBI Headquarters regarding the Tupelo, Mississippi robbery and shooting. Detective O’Neill contacted FBI Headquarters regarding the similarities while working the investigation.
In large part due to Detective O’Neill’s efforts, Garnett was quickly identified and linked to the Georgia and Tupelo robberies, which ended a nationwide manhunt and a suspect’s reign of terror.
On Thursday, June 26, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. the Federal Bureau of Investigation will recognize the efforts of the two witnesses who brought this extremely dangerous situation to the attention of law enforcement.