Customers coming back to pick up their cars from an auto repair shop, Friday, were met with yellow tape and a strong police presence after a man with a .45 caliber pistol shot and killed an employee. Then the gunman was taken down by an armed citizen.
The man killed one employee at Schlenker Automotive and paralyzed another. Then the other employees fought back, Rockledge, Florida Police Chief Joseph La Sata said.
“The manager, who was a concealed weapons permit holder, came out and engaged in gunfire in the parking lot,” La Sata said. “The manager fled back inside the building, being chased by the gunman. Another Schlenker employee, who also had concealed weapons permit, engaged in gunfire with the suspect.”
Robert Lorenzo Bailey Jr., 28, of Cocoa, is believed to be the shooter. An employee shot Bailey twice, leaving him in critical condition at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. If he survives, he’ll be facing charges.
“If not for the brave, quick thinking of the employees at Schlenker, this could have been a lot worse,” La Sata said. “Mr. Bailey had multiple magazines on his person. He was intent on doing harm. The employees stepped up.”
A 25-year-old employee was shot in the parking lot. Schlenker employee Roger Lee Smith, 50, heard the gunfire, and left the store to investigate. He met the suspect there, and Bailey shot and killed him.
There’s no known connection between the suspect and either of the victims, or the business. As of yet, the motive remains unclear. The amount of ammunition Bailey was carrying at the time of the shooting suggests he intended to do more harm.
While the incident seems to many as yet another footnote in the epidemic of gun violence, it is also worth noting that the quick action of armed individuals prevented this from becoming much worse.