ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA –
A man armed with a .45-caliber handgun and a lot of ammunition wandered onto an auto repair shop property and began firing in the parking lot Friday afternoon, police said.
The gunman killed one employee and paralyzed a second. That’s when the employees at Schlenker Automotive fought back with equal force, Rockledge 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.”
Police said the suspect in the homicide is Robert Lorenzo Bailey Jr., 28, of Cocoa. He was shot twice and was in critical condition at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. Officers are keeping him under watch.
“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.”
In the parking lot, longtime Schlenker employee Roger Lee Smith, 50, had been shot and killed by the suspect, police said. Smith had stepped out into the parking lot after he heard the shot that paralyzed his 25-year-old co-worker, La Sata said.
The paralyzed employee’s name was not released Saturday morning.
Detectives are still trying to determine a motive for the shooting. La Sata said no connection could be drawn between Bailey and the business.