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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Jim Haskins was watching the local news Sunday evening when he heard three thuds. He thought someone was stacking lumber at the Small World Daycare behind his apartment. His neighbor, Bill Bates, knew better.

Bates was in the courtyard at Bailey Village in the 1300 block of Northwest Sixth Street when he heard three quick pops — bam bam bam. The sounds came from Apartment 2 on the second floor where Bob Harrington and Allan Reimer had been all day, laughing and arguing and drinking.

Harrington shot Reimer three times soon after 7 p.m. Sunday, and Gainesville Police found Reimer, 51, dead at the scene. Officers interviewed Harrington, but he had not been charged as of Monday afternoon, GPD spokeswoman Cpl. Angelina Valuri said.

Police have not yet released an official report, though neighbors have theories as to what exactly happened in Harrington’s apartment. Soon after talking to officers Sunday night, Harrington told some people in the courtyard he shot Reimer in self-defense.

Harrington told Bates he walked out of his bathroom, his pants around his ankles, when Reimer attacked. He choked Harrington, kneed him the face and kicked his teeth in, Bates said, and one side of Harrington’s face looked bruised Sunday night.

Bates said he believes Reimer wanted to rob Harrington. Reimer told neighbors he was packing up soon and heading west to Montana. He wanted to be a cattle rancher, Bates said, and he might have needed money before moving.

“Everybody knew Allan was gonna go off,” Bates said. “You could just sense it. You could feel it.”

If Harrington acted in self-defense, he would be protected under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which has drawn national scrutiny after the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who died last month after a neighborhood watchman shot him.

But at least one Bailey Village resident, Barry Eastman, doubts Harrington’s story. Harrington is about 50 pounds heavier than Reimer was, and he was known as one of the toughest men in the complex.

“Nobody could beat him,” Eastman said. “I’m surprised to hear this guy came up there to rob him. … I don’t understand how he could even try to rob him.”

Yes, Reimer was an alcoholic, Eastman said. He challenged neighbors from time to time. But Harrington liked to drink, too, and he could have just as easily been at fault.

While he was doing his laundry Sunday afternoon, Eastman said he heard Harrington and Reimer chatting for hours.

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“These guys drank all day, all night,” Eastman said. “They would love each other then fight each other. That’s not a good cocktail.”

Most of the residents at Bailey Village are retired military veterans, and they bring with them all the mental and physical battle scars — Harrington served two tours in Vietnam — and Bates said he thinks Reimer is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War.

“Thinkin’ about the war will make you go crazy, just like livin’ ’round here,” Bates said. “Everybody’s got their own problems, their own mental issues. Everybody goes off sometimes. Even me.”

Still, Bates insists Bailey Village isn’t usually violent. The neighbors are close. They look out for each other. Every couple weeks, Bates barbecues about 40 pounds of pork and beef for any neighbors looking for free food.

Bates calls himself the “go-to guy” in the apartment complex. If anybody needs salt or sugar or cream for their coffee, they go to him. Sometimes, he gives it away. Other times, he sells it.

A couple months back, Bates said, he even sold Harrington a gun.

Harrington did not answer the door Monday night when an Alligator reporter knocked.

Contact Tyler Jett at tjett@alligator.org.

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