An alleged attack
at a Massachusetts gay bar, the killing of an Arkansas
officer, and the slaying of a mother of three--Jacob
D. Robida left a streak of unexplained violence that
ended in a fatal shoot-out with authorities.
Robida, 18, was mortally wounded when he opened
fire on officers following a chase through the
Arkansas hills at speeds in excess of 90 mph. He was
shot twice in the head and died later at a hospital Sunday.
Authorities say Robida left behind three men
wounded in a hatchet-and-gun attack in Massachusetts
and two people dead in Arkansas: a 63-year-old officer
and a passenger in Robida's car whom he had apparently met
over the Internet. "This is insane," said Heather
Volton, 22, of Fall River, Mass., who had known
Robida, a high school dropout, for a year. "That kid
never so much as raised his voice at me.... This is all
pretty much a shock to me, like everyone else."
Authorities had sought Robida since a Thursday
morning attack at the Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford,
Mass., that left three men wounded, one critically.
Robida's friends said they did not know him to
hold animosity toward gays, though police
investigators said he dabbled in Nazism. Police
labeled the attack a hate crime and sought Robida for
attempted murder, assault, and civil rights charges.
Robida next surfaced when he shot and killed
Gassville, Ark., police officer Jim Sell, which
triggered a 20-mile chase from Gassville to Norfork as
deputies and state troopers fired shotguns at Robida. Spike
strips finally slowed Robida's green Pontiac to around 30
mph. "The tires were deflating, at least two of the
tires were now running on rims," Arkansas state police
spokesman Bill Sadler said. "It was apparent he was
losing control of the vehicle."
Before the final exchange, officers had a clear
view of Robida and his passenger, Jennifer Rena
Bailey, 33, of Charleston, W.Va., after Robida's car
spun nearly 180 degrees, crashing into a pair of parked
cars. "Investigators now believe Robida raised a
handgun to the head of Bailey, fired, and it is
believed she was killed instantly by that gunshot,"
Sadler said. "Robida raised that same handgun and fired
on the officers who were present at the scene. They returned fire."
West Virginia state police said Bailey
apparently had corresponded with Robida over the
Internet and in letters and that Robida had picked her up
after the Massachusetts attack. Authorities were
investigating whether Bailey went willingly with
Robida or was abducted.
Three of Robida's friends from a home page the
teen created on the Web site MySpace.com told the
Associated Press that Bailey was Robida's
ex-girlfriend. They said the couple had lived together in
West Virginia. Bailey was either divorced or separated
from her husband.
It appeared Sell
had no idea that he had pulled over the Massachusetts
suspect while working a radar unit on the east side of
Gassville as Robida headed westbound into town. The
green Pontiac bore Kentucky plates that had not been
"The only information they had is what had
happened at Gassville to the officer there," said Lt.
Bill Beach, a criminal investigator for the state
police. "It wasn't until after the pursuit had terminated
that they were able to identify the suspect."
New Bedford investigators had been in contact
with West Virginia authorities before Saturday's
gunfight, but police spokesman Capt. Richard Spirlet
declined to provide details.
Sell was the first Baxter County, Ark., officer
killed in the line of duty since the late 1960s, said
Sheriff John Montgomery, who is based in Mountain
Home, about five miles from Gassville. Sell worked with the
Blytheville police department for over 25 years before
retiring as captain in 2000. He had been working with
the Gassville force since 2003. "We are a close-knit,
small community," Montgomery said. "I can tell you
that even though it was not our officer, it was devastating
for our department, like everyone else." (AP)
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