MANTACHIE – State and federal authorities are still looking into the June 21 attempted robbery of a Mantachie bank, even though the suspect died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.
"All three agencies (the Itawamba County Sheriff's Office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation) are still actively investigating the case," said Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson. "Obviously, the suspect is dead, but the MBI and FBI are still looking into the suspect's background for possible motive. We are in more of a support role right now."
Based on evidence, which includes surveillance footage, law enforcement says Ashlee Smith, 28, of Pontotoc, walked into the Farmers & Merchants branch bank in Mantachie. She fired multiple shots at the two employees, killing Judy Guin, 64, of Marietta.
Smith fled the scene and when confronted by a Saltillo police officer and a Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper in east Saltillo about 15 minutes later, Smith reportedly shot herself.
The bodies of both women were sent to the state crime lab in Pearl for autopsy.
"We do that just to make sure all the T's are crossed and the I's dotted," said Lee County Coroner Carolyn Green. "Since we are dealing with multiple agencies and the federal government, we want to make sure we do everything right and no one can come back later and question what took place.
"The preliminary autopsy said (Smith) died from a gunshot wound to the head. We will learn a little more once the toxicology reports come back and let us know if there was anything in her system. But it could be another four weeks before we get those."
MBI has Smith's cell phone but has not released any information about what it contained.
Smith's family and friends have expressed disbelief on social media, saying Smith was a kind, peaceful person who would never hurt anyone.
"She had a heart of gold," said Brittany Edlemon, who became friends with Smith when they both were around 12. "She is the last person in the world I would have thought would do something like this.
"A lot of friends were in Florida a few weeks ago and she said everything was peachy. She was a ray of sunshine like usual."
Edlemon said Smith was diagnosed with depression 15 years ago due to family issues but had bounced back.
"She had dealt with depression, but a lot of people have," Edlemon said. "I don't know what in her snapped. She never needed money. She always had a good job and friends who would help her."
Friends are still trying to figure out where Smith got the pistol she used.
"That does confuse me," Edlemon said. "I have never ever seen her even hold a gun. She is not a violent person. I don't know where she got the gun."