Tourist suspect search focuses on rural county



MONTICELLO, Fla. (AP)—Police brought in nearly a dozen young men for fingerprinting Wednesday as they scoured this rural Florida county for the teen-agers they say shot a British tourist dead at a highway rest stop.

‘‘The ones we’re looking at now are the ones that have been involved in violence in the past,’‘ said Jefferson County Sheriff Ken Fortune.

He said as many as 100 young men in the county of 12,500 could fit the description of the killers.

Throughout the day, police said, nine young men were brought to the county’s small, one-story white jail for fingerprinting. Witnesses said the attackers ranged in age from 15 to 21.

Gary Colley of England was shot to death and his girlfriend wounded early Tuesday by two youths who knocked on the windows of his rental car at a well-lighted, well-traveled rest stop where the couple stopped to take a nap. Police said a third youth drove the killers’ getaway car.

It was the ninth slaying of a foreign visitor to Florida since 1992. Coming days after the highway killing of a German honeymooner in Miami, it has rocked the state’s $31 billion tourism industry.

In Monticello, a quiet, tree-lined city of 2,600, residents were dismayed at the prospect that the killers might live among them.

‘‘I wouldn’t think it would happen in a small farming town,’‘ said Al Revell, manager of the Downtown Food Store. ‘‘Monticello is quiet. There is no traffic. It’s just a peaceful little town.’‘

Although murders are rare in the area, Fortune said Jefferson County suffers from some of the same problems as a big city: too many guns in the hands of young, often poor, people.

‘‘People think crime only occurs in metropolitan areas. That’s not so,’‘ he said.

The car police believe was used in the crime was found near Monticello. It contained a broken hubcap, and the broken piece was found at the Interstate 10 rest stop where Colley was killed.

Fortune said Colley, 34, and his 35-year-old girlfriend, Margaret Ann Jagger, struck the car with their rental car as they tried to flee the confrontation.

Colley was shot in the neck and Ms. Jagger was wounded in the chest and arm.

The victim’s father, Terry Colley, denounced the United States as ‘‘a sick country.’‘

‘‘The (British) Foreign Office have done what they can, but there’s not a lot our authorities can do,’‘ he said from West Yorkshire, England. ‘‘What can they do to a sick society?’‘

Ms. Jagger’s mother, Muriel Jagger, told reporters in Bradford, England, that her daughter said she and her boyfriend tried to flee when the young men demanded their money because they were convinced they would be killed.

‘‘Margaret said they were confused but did not think they had any chance at all, whether they handed over the money or not,’‘ she said.

She added that her daughter praised Americans for the kindness she had been shown since the attack.

‘‘She told me the people over there were very, very kind indeed. They are doing everything possible for her. They could not have been kinder.’‘

Gov. Lawton Chiles offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the killers’ conviction, and ordered 540 auxiliary officers from various state agencies to patrol the state’s 48 interstate highway rest areas.

The state also suspended all tourist advertising after the killing.

But Universal Studios Florida went ahead with an announcement Wednesday that it plans a 10-year, $3 billion expansion of its Orlando resort that will include a second theme park and five hotels. Groundbreaking on the expansion is expected in 1995.