Policeman slain, partner wounded by bank robbery suspects




, Last Updated: 10:52 PM ET

JACKSON, MISS. - Authorities in northeastern Mississippi launched a manhunt on Monday for as many as three bank robbers believed to have shot a policeman to death in Tupelo and wounded a second officer as the suspects made their getaway, police said.

Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre confirmed that 38-year-old police Corporal Gale Stauffer died at about 3:45 p.m. local time after being shot at close range by one of the suspects on a busy downtown street.

Stauffer, who was married with two young children, had joined the force in 2005.

Another officer, 26 years of age but whose name was not given, was listed in critical condition at a local hospital, Aguirre said.

Details were murky. The two officers were shot as they confronted two or three robbery suspects who had been fleeing from police in a car after holding up a nearby BancorpSouth branch, the chief said.

Numerous people witnessed the shooting, many watching from their vehicles or through the windows of nearby shops and restaurants. Police detectives and FBI agents were interviewing many of them, Aguirre said.

A $50,000 reward was offered for information related to the case, he said.