A Couple Didn’t Have A Cigarette Lighter For A Hotel Guest. So He Went Inside And Shot An Employee, Police Say.

cigarette lighter hotel man shoots kills worker kentucky
Source: McCracken County Sheriff's Office, Unsplash

Feb. 13 2023, Published 2:27 p.m. ET

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A man from Florida asked a man and woman for a cigarette lighter in the parking lot of a hotel he was staying at in Kentucky. When the pair couldn't give him one, he allegedly went inside and killed an employee, police said.

Around 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 11, authorities received multiple 911 calls about a possible active shooter at the hotel in Paducah, according to the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office.

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Sheriff’s office deputies as well as officers with the Paducah Police Department responded to the hotel, where they found the female victim on the first floor suffering gunshot wounds.

Around the same time, officers located a possible suspect — later identified as hotel guest Robert Pannell — outside in the hotel's parking lot and they detained him.

The female victim, who worked at the hotel, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to her head and body, officials said.

Deputies and officers searched the hotel, but no other victims or suspects were located on the premises.

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Police said an investigation determined the suspect, Panell, allegedly assaulted the man and woman in the parking lot of the hotel after the pair could not provide a cigarette lighter.

Following the alleged assault, police believe Pannell, 55, entered the hotel armed with a handgun. He the walked down a hallway, where he allegedly shot the female victim and then indiscriminately fired off multiple rounds, according to investigators.


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The female victim was transported to an area hospital, where she died from her injuries.

Police said the suspected murder weapon was recovered in the hotel lobby. Investigators are working to determine why the Florida suspect was in Kentucky at the time of the incident.

Pannell was initially charged with assault, wanton endangerment, menacing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, officials said. After the shooting victim died, Pannell was also charged with first-degree murder.

He was booked into the McCracken County jail and could face additional charges in connection with the case, police said.


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