Albany-- Easter Sunday night a man stopped at a routine traffic check on Thomas Drive at Panama City Beach shot a Police Officer twice, killing him. The cop killer ran and jumped into a pickup truck with seven South Georgia teenagers, as he made his escape.
Deerfield-Windsor High Junior Kaley Ho said she and her friends were just going for a ride on the Panama City strip. "All of the sudden the guys in the back said there was a guy in the back with a gun. We thought he was kidding, but he wasn't," she said.
The man dove into the bed of the pickup truck, covered himself with towels, and told them to drive. "He said he had just popped a cop, and he would kill any cop if he had to," Kaley said.
The accused cop killer is Robert Bailey. Investigators say the 22-year-old Milwaukee gang member gunned down 34-year-old Panama City Beach Police Sgt. Kevin Kight at a traffic stop on Thomas Drive in March. Ho and six other teens were in their pick up truck just yards away on the P.C. strip, when he dove in.
Ho said "He didn't say where he wanted to go, he just said to drive him where he wanted to go."
Five 16 and 17 year old girls were in the cab of the truck, two teenage boys were in the back with the gunman. "We just did what he said to do. Somebody called my friend when we were in the truck, and she told him there was a guy in the back with a gun, and told them to call the Police," Ho said.
The gunman told them to stop about a mile after he carjacked them, at a liquor store. As he left, the gunman gave them one hundred dollars. Ho said "He just jumped out, threw the money at the boys, and ran."
Kaley's mother Karen said she is proud how well the teens handled the life or death crisis. "I think the parents realize probably more so than the children."
Kaley Ho said, "They just sat there with him and talked to him. They say he sounded pretty nice.... but."
Investigators say after Bailey left the teens, he joined two other men with him when he shot the officer, carjacked another car to escape. His friends were arrested that night, Bailey was caught the next morning.
Investigators say Bailey had gone to Panama City to sell 15 pounds of marijuana. Kaley said she and the other teens have had no problems from the ordeal. "We were pretty scared still, but we're pretty relieved too."
The teens finished their spring break vacation, and Haley said she will be ready to go back next March.
Karen Ho and several parents of the teens said they were upset that Panama City Beach Police and city officials tried to bury this story. They say city officials kept the carjackings out of the news, to protect their tourism industry.