Sheriff’s Office Says Suspect in Bay County Double Homicide Was a Transient

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Crime scene investigation - File Photo.

BAY COUNTY, FL – Today at a press conference, Sheriff Tommy Ford outlined the details of an investigation by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office which resulted in the arrest of Ruez Hicks, age 19, a transient, on Friday, January 29, 2021, for the homicides of two men visiting Panama City Beach from Georgia.

The BCSO received a call for a medical emergency on January 26, 2021, at around 11 pm. Two people that lived near a residence on Delmar Drive, Panama City Beach, called 911 when they found an unresponsive man on his front porch while they were out walking.

Deputies arrived to find the man, identified as Robert Keith Gilmore, age 51, deceased. Gilmore had a gunshot wound and the pocket on his pants ripped. Another victim was found inside the home on Delmar, also deceased. Robert Shawn Fowler, age 48, was located in a rear bedroom of the home, also with a gunshot wound. The home was owned by Fowler, who rented it out. Gilmore was related to Fowler and helped in remodeling.

BCSO Criminal Investigations was called to the home. Crime Scene began processing the scene. Investigators began speaking to neighbors, potential witnesses, and running down all leads. Several investigators traveled to Georgia, where the victims were from, to speak with family face-to-face, and find out about associates of the victim.

Construction workers that had been working at the home on Delmar were located, but they had all left the property prior to the homicides. A team of deputies and investigators was created for extra patrol of the neighborhood around Delmar Drive during overnight hours.

On the day of the homicide, it was determined that the ripped back pocket on Gilmore’s pants was also the pocket in which he was known to carry a wallet. Video obtained of the victims at a local discount store showed the pants pocket was intact just prior to the homicides. Gilmore’s wallet had not been found.

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Information that a card of Gilmore’s had been used at a business on Panama City Beach was obtained. Investigators were able to get the video of the person using the card, and it revealed a young black man. His image was released to law enforcement. A BCSO deputy recognized the young man as having been present at a call for service the deputy responded to recently.

Investigators went to that location and located Ruez Hicks, age 19, the young man on the video using the victim’s card. Hicks was a transient. He was placed into custody and interviewed. Hicks stated to investigators he had gone to the home at 19520 Delmar Drive to burglarize it. He had the firearm with him. While he was at the home, the two victims returned and confronted him. Hicks stated he exited the home and turned and fired at both Gilmore and Fowler. Evidence at the scene causes investigators to believe Fowler retreated to the back bedroom after being shot and succumbed to his injuries there. When Gilmore went down on the front porch, Hicks stated he rolled him over and ripped his back pocket while stealing Gilmore’s wallet.

The firearm was located, as were the spent casings, and the victim’s wallet was found on Hicks’ person. At the location that Hicks was apprehended, a BCSO K9 did an article search and found the contents of Gilmore’s wallet nearby as well as evidence connecting Hicks to several other car burglaries.

Hicks was arrested and charged with two counts of Homicide and Robbery with a Firearm. Additional charges expected. The Panama City Beach Police Department also assisted in this investigation.