By Mike Simmons
From the book, “Some Gave All,” coming soon on Amazon.
On Saturday night, January 19, 1974, Vernon Cooper and Steve Ellis pulled an armed robbery at the Winn Dixie grocery store at the corner of Mobile Highway and Saufley Field Road. Minutes later, Escambia County Deputy Charles Wilkerson stopped their vehicle at Pine Forest Road and Interstate 10 for erratic driving, not knowing the robbery had occurred. The robbery was broadcast during the stop, at which time one of the suspects distracted Deputy Wilkerson as the other suspect shot him. The two suspects fled. A massive manhunt followed off the Wilcox Road exit from I-10 in Alabama. It resulted in the death of Ellis and the capture of Cooper.
Vernon Cooper was sentenced to life in prison, but it didn’t bring Charlie back.
Deputy Wilkerson had served with the agency for two years.