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By Jason Geary, THE LEDGER
Published: Monday, July 26, 2010 at 11:55 p.m.
Auburndale man claims he thought he was defending himself when he shot at cars on U.S. 92.
BARTOW | An Auburndale man accused of randomly shooting motorists along U.S. 92 had an additional 95 rounds of ammunition and a large knife in the backseat of his car, Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigative reports show.
Deputies say Robin Parks, 51, went on a shooting spree shortly after midnight June 5, firing at three cars and striking a teenager in the buttocks and a woman in the face.
Katrina Hines, 30, continues to recover from her injuries.
She said she lost sight from her left eye, but she can still see from her right eye.
Hines, who was three months pregnant at the time of the shooting, said her unborn child is doing well.
Along with firing his Smith & Wesson .357-caliber magnum revolver, Parks is also accused of using his silver Toyota Corolla to repeatedly ram one car before losing control and striking a concrete culvert, reports state.
He faces a total of six counts of attempted first-degree murder, which each carries a maximum punishment of life in prison. He is being held in the Polk County Jail without bond.
Prosecutors recently released documents in the case against Parks, including video of his interview with detectives.
Parks told detectives he had been a postal employee for more than 26 years and he was waiting to see if he could collect disability.
Parks said he has a concealed weapons permit and usually kept the firearm on himself.
He insisted he got the gun from the backseat and fired warning shots to scare away people trying to kill him and run him off the road.
“I thought I was firing in the asphalt,” he said. “I didn’t think I was hitting the cars.”
Detectives did not find that the shooting victims knew Parks or that anyone was following him.
Detective Kurt Karakash told Parks that his story “makes no sense” and pressed him to explain.
“I thought these people were after me,” Parks said.
He asked detectives to tell the people that he was sorry.
“You will have your day in court to tell them you are sorry when you’re sentenced,” replied Karakash.
Reports also show that detectives interviewed witnesses and got surveillance footage in an attempt to confirm Parks’ whereabouts on the hours leading up to the shootings.
Parks said he looked at a hunting rifle at a gun store and then visited three bars in downtown Lakeland.
He said other patrons didn’t want to get into conversations with him.
“I was getting ill looks from everywhere,” he said.
Two men told detectives that Parks became confrontational for no reason at Linksters Tap Room shortly before the shootings began.
Oliver Strawbridge recalled that he was smoking a cigarette when Parks threatened him, according to a transcript.
” ‘You think that smoke is bad, wait until I snuff your life out,’ ” he recalled Parks saying in a low, serious tone.
Strawbridge said Parks attempted to block people from attempting to get a bouncer to throw him out and he left.
Strawbridge described Parks’ demeanor as “extremely threatening and hostile,” and could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath.
Testing later showed Parks had a blood-alcohol level of about 0.22 percent. Under Florida law, a driver is presumed to be intoxicated at 0.08 percent.
Parks repeatedly told deputies that he only had about one beer that evening, and he took a pill for a migraine headache in the morning.
Deputies searched Parks’ home on Keith Lane in Auburndale.
On a kitchen counter, they found a “partially smoked cannabis cigarette” as well as pill bottles with Parks’ name on them.
His wife, Judy Parks, told investigators that her husband has medication for back pain and depression, reports state.
Parks’ lawyer, Kelly Sims of Winter Park, did not return calls Monday.
[ Jason Geary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7536. ]