Family tried to get mental care for alleged shooter of 2 boys in Panama City Beach

Andrew Wolfson
The News Herald

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Family members say they tried for years to get mental health care for the man charged with shooting and killing one boy and injuring another at the Beach last week.

Christopher Lawrence Cox, 37, charged with murder and attempted murder in the recent shootings, was convicted of assaulting his mother almost four years ago and ordered to undergo psychiatric counseling as a condition of a plea agreement. 

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Christopher Lawrence Cox, 37, of Panama City
Beach

Cox was charged in the Panama City Beach case after he allegedly admitted shooting two 14-year-old stepbrothers from Louisville, Kentucky, while on vacation in Panama City Beach. The shooting took place behind the Shores of Panama Resort. 

In a statement, his mother, Cara Cox, who goes by Cammie, said, "We are grieving for the families and friends of the victims and are asking for prayers for all, especially for them."

In another statement, his sister, Carter Cox, said: "Despite family and friends seeking help for Christopher for more than a decade, this is yet another tragic example of multiple systems failing to address mental health issues and gun violence. Our hearts are breaking for the victims' families."

Christopher Cox graduated from Louisville Collegiate School in 2001 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville and a master’s in architecture from Tulane University, according to interviews and court records. Panama City Beach police said it was a coincidence that both Cox and the victims were from Louisville.

He also apprenticed in a firm owned by his father, Alvin Cox, a prominent Louisville architect. 

According to a police report, Cara Cox was at work on May 11, 2017, when she got a call from a neighbor who said Christopher was acting oddly in the yard at the family’s home in Crescent Hill. 

When Cara Cox got home, she found that he had painted a driveway the family shared with a neighbor and when she asked why, he said it was because the neighbor was not “respecting our side.” 

When she asked him to clean off the paint, he knocked her over and she suffered a deep cut over her eye, according to a citation that says he then began to strike and kick her as she lay on the ground.  

Police found empty liquor bottles inside the home as well as guns and ammunition, according to a citation that says they were not confiscated. 

Christopher Cox was charged with assault causing a serious injury, a felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison, and allowed to plead guilty to domestic assault, a misdemeanor. 

He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, conditionally discharged for two years. 

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens also ordered him to undergo six months of mental health counseling. 

Attorney Logan Sims, who defended him, declined to comment Wednesday on his diagnosis, citing attorney-client privilege. 

However, Sims said Cox was always “very cogent and respectful when I represented him.” 

Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said Cox’s mother was consulted about the plea agreement.

“He agreed to take his medication and everything was fine for two years, until two days ago,” Wine said. 

Cox was born and raised in Louisville and had a studio at Mellwood Art Center, according to a motion filed in the assault case to reduce his bond.

He had worked for five years as a professional estimator and project manager in St. Petersburg before he returned to Louisville to work toward completing an apprenticeship in architecture at Cox, Allen and Associates, the motion says.