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June 3, 2011

Shot suspect wanted

Man killed by officer on parole for attempted murder

MINERAL WELLS — Andrew Coffman, the 28-year-old shooting and kidnapping suspect shot and killed by police Wednesday morning, was already on parole for attempted murder, Mineral Wells Police Chief Mike McAllester said.

Early Wednesday morning, Coffman, a Weatherford resident, allegedly kidnapped a 19-year-old Weatherford woman. The woman dialed 911 on her cell phone and left it open in her purse, allowing police to track the crime in progress and eventually pinpoint her location.

When officers arrived at a convenience store in the 1600 block of S.E. 22nd Avenue in Mineral Wells, police discovered Coffman reportedly chasing and shooting at the victim, leading one officer to shoot Coffman multiple times.

A pellet gun, which Coffman allegedly convinced the victim was a lethal firearm, and a knife were found near Coffman during the initial search of the crime scene, McAllester said.

Coffman died later Wednesday in the intensive care unit of John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

McAllester said Coffman’s body was taken to the Tarrant County medical examiner for an autopsy and toxicology tests.

According to medical examiner records, prosector Lloyd White, M.D., ruled Coffman’s death a homicide, caused by “perforating and penetrating handgun wounds of head, chest, and abdomen.”

Police say information contained in the victim’s 911 call and a subsequent investigation shed light on the possible motive behind the crime.

“[Coffman] reported to his parole officer Tuesday and learned that he had likely violated the conditions of his parole,” McAllester said.

Jason Clarke, public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, confirmed a warrant was issued for Coffman on May 31 for parole violation resulting from his attempt to contact a victim.

According to Coffman’s father, Larry Coffman, his son told a parole officer he had made a call to the previous victim to express his remorse and was informed it would be the decision of officials where the crime occurred whether he would be arrested for parole violation.

Coffman’s 2004 attempted murder conviction originated in Alaska according to McAllester, where he was sentenced to 30 years incarceration.

According to a June 26, 2003, report in the Mat-Su Valley (Alaska) Frontiersman, Coffman was 19 when he pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree attempted murder, third-degree assault and second-degree stalking. Coffman was reportedly charged with attempted murder and assault following the January 2002 shooting of 75-year-old Mary Rogers, who suffered a gunshot wound to the face but survived with a broken jaw.

The stalking charges were added after an incident that occurred after Coffman was released on bail, according to the article. Coffman allegedly violated the terms of his bail when he contacted the girlfriend of Rogers’ grandson, who worked with Coffman and allegedly rejected his romantic advances.

Coffman was reportedly carrying a .44-caliber handgun when he was arrested by Alaska state troopers along the Canadian border.

In February this year, Coffman was reportedly released on parole, which had been transferred along with his move to Texas.

Police “had no idea at the time of the shooting that he had a prior conviction,” the elder Coffman said, which McAllester confirmed, adding the information was discovered during a subsequent investigation. The idea of returning to prison may have led to Coffman’s actions Wednesday, though, McAllester said.

“He told the victim he wouldn’t go back to prison and he was going to force her to go to Mexico with him,” McAllester said.

Coffman’s vehicle was “loaded with personal belongings” and packed bags, McAllester said, reaffirming the suspicion he may have been planning to evade authorities.

While the 911 tapes have not been released, McAllester said the approximately 14-minute call was “very chilling” and suggested Coffman was both homicidal and suicidal.

Larry Coffman said his son’s erratic behavior stemmed from the guilt he felt over causing his previous victim so much pain.

He said Andrew Coffman was depressed and had contacted at least five local counselors for help. Each time, the elder Coffman said, he was turned down because he either had no insurance or wasn’t suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction.

Police say they are not certain why Coffman targeted the woman as a victim, but said the two were co-workers and she had apparently rejected continued romantic advances by Kauffman.

“She told him she wanted to be friends,” McAllester said, “she wasn’t interested in a romantic relationship.”

McAllester said, while he could sympathize with Coffman’s father, who spoke out against the police department by claiming excessive force was used in the shooting, he stands by the actions of the officer involved.

“I understand the loss of a child is never good but [Coffman’s] father is well aware of his son’s criminal past,” he said.

McAllester said the Mineral Wells Police Department has cooperated with Coffman’s family, providing whatever information they could, but said he is confident officers in the case “did what they were trained to do.”

A grand jury will convene to determine whether the shooting was warranted, McAllester said, adding “this is absolutely, in my mind, justified.”

The officer, whose name has not been released, is a six and a half year veteran of the Mineral Wells Police Department and has “been assigned to desk duty until the case is over,” McAllester said.

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