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Massachusetts gay bar shooting suspect captured


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Massachusetts gay bar shooting suspect captured Sat Feb 4, 2006 11:08 PM ET

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - The 18-year-old suspect in a bloody attack on three men in a Massachusetts gay bar was captured in Arkansas on Saturday after killing a police officer and a woman, police said.

Jacob Robida was shot in the head and was in critical condition in a Springfield, Missouri, hospital after an exchange of gunfire with police, Massachusetts police said at a news conference. "He's in critical condition and it doesn't look very well for him right now," said Paul Walsh, district attorney in Bristol County, Massachusetts.

The teenager became the target of a manhunt after he was accused of wounding three people with a gun and a hatchet in a New Bedford, Massachusetts, gay bar late on Wednesday.

Robida faces about a dozen charges, including three counts of attempted murder and civil rights violations for the attack that stunned gays in the region and raised fears the assailant could strike again.

Robida was pulled over for a routine traffic stop in Gassville in north-central Arkansas. He then shot and killed a police officer, according to police in New Bedford. Arkansas state troopers then pursued Robida for 16 miles to Norfork, Arkansas, before he crashed his car. Troopers saw Robida shoot an unidentified woman in his car, according to authorities. When they approached him a shootout began in which Robida was shot twice in the head, New Bedford police said.

Three nights ago Robida walked into Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, ordered two drinks and then went on a rampage after asking a bartender, "Is this a gay bar?" When told he was in a gay bar, Robida walked into a back area where several men played pool, reached into his coat and pulled out a hatchet, police said. He lunged at several men, striking two in the face with the hatchet before several of the bar's 18 patrons attempted to restrain him, police said. He then drew a gun and began firing, according to police and witnesses.

Relief spread through New Bedford on Saturday evening on news Robida had been caught. But some patrons at the bar where Robida attacked were frightened some of his supporters might come back for them. "I'm just very happy this story has come to an end because the feeling around here was that Robida would not go down easy," said Robert Perry, one of the teenager's victims, his right eye badly bruised and his right cheek cut.

A search of Robida's bedroom turned up neo-Nazi literature and posters slurring gays, Jews and blacks, Walsh told Reuters on Friday.

"It is pressure off my chest but I am still remaining in fear.

He has a circle of friends on the Web and they all support him," said Phillip Daggett, the bartender at Puzzles who witnessed the attack.

(Reporting by Steve Barnes in Little Rock and David Ortiz in New Bedford)


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