Federal authorities said a man suspected in a weeklong bank robbery spree that stretched across the U.S. and the shooting death of a Mississippi police officer had been previously arrested for making online threats against President Barack Obama.
Mario Edward Garnett was shot and killed by a detective just after robbing a bank Saturday morning in Phoenix.
The 40-year-old Garnett has been linked by authorities to an attempted Dec. 23 bank robbery in Atlanta and a bank robbery later that same day in Tupelo, Miss.
Garnett is accused of fatally shooting Officer Gale Stauffer and wounding Officer Joseph Maher just after the Tupelo robbery.
Secret Service agents said Garnett was arrested in 2010 for making threats against the president, but they declined to release additional details about the case or its resolution.
FBI agents said Garnett’s cell phone records show he was in Atlanta, Phoenix and Tupelo at the time of each robbery or attempted robbery, and investigators said there were “numerous similarities” between the three cases, including the suspect’s clothing, the statements he made and his “overall modus operandi.”
Authorities say Garnett wore a mask and unsuccessfully demanded money from a Bank of America teller in Atlanta, but he got an undisclosed amount of cash from someone using an ATM in the lobby and fled in a car without license plates.
The suspect then stole an undisclosed amount of money later that same day from Bancorp South in Tupelo before fleeing in a similar gray sedan.
Officers Stauffer and Maher were investigating a report that the robber had fled in a white SUV when the suspect ambushed them while stalled in traffic.
Stauffer was buried Friday, and Maher’s condition has improved, authorities said.
Garnett was shot by a Phoenix detective called to investigate the bank robbery there, and he later died at a hospital. No one else was injured during the robbery.
Investigators said Garnett drove a rental car to Phoenix, but they weren’t sure where he’d been or what he was doing in the meantime.
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