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Teen suspect dies
after shootout in Arkansas

Teen suspect dies
after shootout in Arkansas


Jacob Robida--suspected of an attack inside a Massachusetts gay bar and in the killing of two people in Arkansas--has died.

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 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 reported stolen. "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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