By RAEGAN SCHARFETTER
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (KTVT) — The suspect in a 19-year-old cold case involving the shooting of a North Richland Hills police officer has been identified.
Officer Jeff Garner was shot on March 3, 2003, after attempting to stop a man who had just robbed a bank in Watauga. The suspect had remained at large since then.
In 2015, North Richland Hills Police Detective Erik Whitlock was assigned to the investigation and began examining the evidence. Based on the analysis, officials said the suspect was believed to be linked to seven bank robberies from 1998 to 2003.
In 2018, North Richland Hills police submitted DNA evidence to Parabon Nanolabs — a DNA phenotyping service — to conduct further testing of the suspect’s profile.
Through the testing, an unknown male DNA profile was identified but didn’t match a specific suspect. A sketch was then provided by Parabon and shared publicly; however, no new leads came from it.
The case went cold again.
In 2019, Detective Whitlock submitted the DNA data to Identifinders International for a forensic genetic genealogy examination.
Detective Whitlock was notified in December 2021 that their suspect was Mark Alan Long based on shared DNA matches identified on GEDmatch, a public DNA comparison platform.
A few months later in February 2022, undercover detectives traveled to Oklahoma to begin surveillance on Long and obtained his DNA from items he used at a restaurant. Officials said those items were submitted for forensic examination alongside previously collected evidence in three other bank robberies.
Long matched the DNA collected from those three bank robberies.
In early April, search warrants were obtained for Long’s home, vehicle, and a previously-owned Jeep believed to have been used in the Watauga bank robbery.
During their search, officials found a revolver in Long’s house that matched the description of the weapon used to shoot Officer Garner.
Officials said the revolver was sent for ballistics processing and returned as a match with evidence collected from Garner’s shooting. Long’s old Jeep was also found to have body filler repair on the tailgate — consistent with that of a bullet hole, and “thus with that of the return fire delivered by Officer Garner at the driver of the Jeep,” officials said.
Long was to be charged with attempted capital murder of a peace officer, aggravated robbery, and two counts of robbery with a total bond of $675,000.
As detectives closed in on Long to serve the warrants, they learned that he had been found dead near a cell tower in southeast Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Officials said while the evidence from Long’s death investigation leads detectives to believe he took his life, the final ruling on his cause of death will be released by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner.
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