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DEA Agent on the Lam Kills Self

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A federal agent suspected of murdering his ex-girlfriend in Orange County last week shot and killed himself Saturday while being chased by police in Louisiana’s bayou country, officials said.

Tony Gerard Bailey, 35, had been the subject of a nationwide search since Wednesday, when witnesses and police said he shot and killed Veda Harris and wounded her sister, Wendy Campbell, in a jealous rage at Campbell’s home in Fullerton.

The Drug Enforcement Administration agent showed up Saturday at the Opelousas home of Bailey’s former brother-in-law, which had been under surveillance by police there since Friday, Opelousas Police Capt. Ronnie Trahan said. Bailey apparently went to the town north of Lafayette searching for his ex-wife, Pamela Bailey, who was coming for a family reunion, Trahan said.

Bailey had learned his ex-wife was headed to her hometown when he tried to reach her by telephone in Texas, Trahan said. Her family alerted authorities, and police placed her in protective custody, he said.

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“No one knew what he wanted,” Trahan said. “Whether he wanted to give her something or talk to her, the possibilities were just too many.”

Just before 2 p.m. local time on Saturday, an officer spotted Bailey in the 1996 black Ford Explorer he was seen driving from the murder scene, Trahan said. The officer followed Bailey, who tried to escape, Trahan said.

By then, patrol cars had swarmed the area, and one police officer saw the Explorer heading to Pamela Bailey’s family home in the 700 block of Planters Street, Trahan said. As the officer approached Bailey’s vehicle, the federal agent jumped out and ran, Trahan said.

As the officer chased Bailey and ordered him to stop, Bailey crossed a fence, ran in and out of a gully and jumped another fence, Trahan said. The officer heard a shot as he followed, Trahan said.

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Bailey had shot himself once in the head, Trahan said. Police did not recover any items from Bailey that could reveal why he wanted to see his ex-wife, Trahan said. The weapon he used to kill himself was a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol, Trahan said.

Fullerton police believe the weapon is the same one he fired four times inside Campbell’s home, Sgt. Kevin Hamilton said. DEA officials have said the gun is not his duty weapon because Bailey has not had access to it for two years.

Bailey, a 10-year agent with the DEA, had been on paid administrative leave since 1997, when he was charged with felony child abuse for allegedly shaking his infant daughter so violently that she suffered permanent brain damage. A judge dropped the charges a year later.

Police said that child, now 2 and severely handicapped, may have witnessed her mother’s slaying. She was with two siblings and three cousins at the home that night.

Campbell’s fiance, James Fife, 45, said Saturday he was relieved that the search was over so the family can “start healing.” The victims’ children have been in protective custody since the shooting, and Campbell is recovering from a gunshot wound at UCI Medical Center in Orange.

“It’s just as well,” Fife said of Bailey’s suicide. “It spares us the trouble of going through [a trial] and the heartache of worrying that he’ll do something else to hurt these kids. Now we can try to pick up the pieces and move on.”

Fife said he and Campbell hope to become legal guardians of Harris’ three children, including 2-year-old Alexus.


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