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Civilians, officer honored after deadly bank robbery

PHOENIX — Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton honored two civilians and a police officer Friday for their actions during a deadly bank robbery in Phoenix last December.

In a small ceremony at Phoenix City Hall, Richard Bounds and Selebrity Spratt were each awarded the Most Valuable Phoenician Award, the highest award bestowed by the mayor.

“To effectively fight crime in our community, it needs to be a full partnership between the people of the City of Phoenix, citizens, active citizens, watchful citizens and our outstanding Phoenix Police Department,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “Today, we wanted to celebrate our brave police officer and celebrate two citizens who went the extra mile.”

Bounds was commended for calling police as he observed the suspect, later identified as Mario Edward Garnett, from across the street entering the BBVA Compass Bank near 35th Avenue and Thomas on Dec. 28 with a mask on.

“We were driving through the drive-thru at the burger shop and my buddy says, ‘Hey, check it out,'” he said. “I look over, and I see the tail end of a guy running into the bank door, and I look at him and I say, ‘What was that?’ and he goes, ‘He’s going to rob the bank.'”

That’s when Bounds said he called police. Minutes later, an officer arrived, and Garnett came out of the bank and began firing.

As the shots began, Spratt said she had just left the bank. She was also commemorated with Bounds, for helping a bystander take cover during the gunfire.

“I will say first, I don’t feel much like a hero; you just do what you do when it happens,” she said. “The first thing I thought was it was a joke, I thought someone was playing a prank or something.”

But after seeing the police car out front, that’s when Spratt said she realized the bank was being robbed and drove her car around to the back of the bank.

“As I get around the back of the bank I see this young kid…and I’m like, ‘What happened?’ and he says, ‘I think they’re robbing the bank,” Spratt said. “(So) I said get your ‘bleep’ in the car!”

The two took cover in the vehicle until police officers secured the scene, Spratt said.

Garnett and the first officer on scene, Tyler Wilson, exchanged fire out front of the bank, until he was assisted by Detective Fabian Gonzalez who returned fire and killed Garnett.

For his quick reactions, Gonzalez was also awarded the Most Valuable Phoenician Award. Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia said more commemoration will be forthcoming for Gonzalez.

“I want to commend Detective Fabian Gonzalez for quickly bringing this incident to an end,” said Garcia. “Detective Fabian Gonzalez will be recognized not only by our department, he is going to be recognized this afternoon by the mayor, but he’s also been nominated for a Congressional Award for his bravery.”

Besides the threat Garnett posed at the time of the incident, it was later found that Garnett was also responsible for the killing of another officer in Tupelo, Miss., during the commission of another bank robbery just days earlier on Dec. 23.

Stanton thanked Gonzalez for his work and said his actions may have saved lives.

“As is the case with so many Phoenix police officers, he’s a very humble detective, Fabian Gonzalez, but your quick action probably saved the lives of citizens,” Stanton said to Gonzalez as he handed him the award.