Teen wanted in gay bar attack dies after gun battle

Monday, February 6, 2006

Suspect in Massachusetts incident fled to Arkansas where he gunned down a police officer.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- A teenager suspected in a brutal rampage at a Massachusetts gay bar died Sunday from wounds suffered in a shootout with Arkansas police after he fatally shot an officer and a woman acquaintance, authorities said.

The slain officer, Jim Sell, 63, did not know the 18-year-old he had stopped for a traffic violation in the small northern Arkansas town of Gassville was Jacob D. Robida who was wanted in the hatchet-and-gun attack Thursday that left three men injured at a New Bedford bar more than 1,200 miles away, investigators said.

Robida shot the officer and then led police on a 20-mile chase through the Arkansas hills before his car crashed in Norfork.

Investigators said the teen then shot his passenger, Jennifer Rena Bailey, 33, in the head and started firing at police.

Passenger slain

Arkansas State Police Lt. Bill Beach said officers didn't know who was in the car until after the gunfight.

Robida, who was shot twice in the head, died at Cox-South Hospital in Springfield, Mo., hospital spokesman Randy Berger said.

New Bedford police said they were still trying to determine what motivated Robida, a high school dropout who friends said had a swastika tattoo, but had not previously expressed prejudice toward homosexuals.

After the attack at the Puzzles Lounge, police say Robida picked up Bailey at her home in Charleston, W.Va., but it was unknown whether the mother of three went willingly.

"She and this guy, Robida, were acquaintances," West Virginia State Police Sgt. C.J. Ellyson said.

"The extent of their relationship I don't know. They were corresponding over the Internet and in letters."

Bailey was either divorced or separated from her husband.

Massachusetts investigators had been in contact with West Virginia authorities before Saturday's killings in Arkansas, said New Bedford police Capt. Richard Spirlet. He would not give details, saying, "That's part of the investigation."

At Puzzles in New Bedford, there was a mix of relief, sadness and disappointment.

"I wish he would have lived and gone on trial," said Dan Sheterom, 51, a regular who lives in an apartment above the bar.

"I would have liked to have seen if the commonwealth here would have taken it up to the federal government as a hate crime."

Associated Press writer Andrew Ryan in Boston contributed to this report.

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