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Florida man killed hotel employee after couple did not give him cigarette lighter: Deputies

Robert Pannell allegedly shot and killed a hotel employee after a couple could not give him a cigarette lighter. (Mugshot: McCracken County Sheriff's Office)

Robert Pannell allegedly shot and killed a hotel employee after a couple could not give him a cigarette lighter. (Mugshot: McCracken County Sheriff’s Office)

A man allegedly murdered a hotel worker, and though investigators are still looking into what caused this, they said it followed after a couple “could not give” him a cigarette lighter. Deputies in McCracken County, Kentucky, booked Robert Pannell, 55, into the local jail for charges including murder, records show.

According to authorities, they got 911 calls Saturday at approximately 9:48 a.m. of a possible active shooter at a hotel in the city of Paducah. A responding deputy found a female victim on the first floor of the hotel, they said. They described her as suffering multiple gunshot wounds to her head and body. A Paducah police officer found a possible suspect and detained him in the parking lot, authorities said.

“During the subsequent investigation, it was discovered that the suspect, Robert Pannell, had assaulted a male and female in the parking lot of the hotel after the couple could not give Pannell a cigarette lighter,” deputies said. “Pannell then went inside the hotel with a handgun and walked down a hallway. Pannell then shot the female victim and shot multiple rounds indiscriminately. Multiple people were in close proximity to Pannell when he indiscriminately fired his handgun. At some point, Pannell threw his handgun inside the lobby of the hotel. Pannell was a guest at the hotel, but so far it is undetermined what led to his actions. Detectives are currently and will continue to investigate.”

The victim was taken to a local hospital, but deputies said she was being kept alive for organ donation.

“At the request of the family, the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office is not releasing her name,” authorities wrote. “The MCSO asks for everyone to keep the victim’s family and friends in their prayers.”

They announced later Saturday that she died.

That leaves authorities with a defendant, a tragic allegation, and a publicly unannounced motive. Authorities described Pannell as being from Palm Coast, Florida. It is unclear why he was in Paducah, they said.

In addition to the murder charge, Pannell remains locked up for assault in the first degree, assault in the fourth degree (no visible injury), wanton endangerment in the first degree, assault in the third degree (of a police officer or probation officer), menacing, disorderly conduct in the second degree, and resisting arrest.

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