Monroe LA May 16 2012 Monroe police have arrested two men in connection with a Saturday night shooting at Pecanland Mall.
According to Detective Jeremy Kent, Christopher Coleman, 18, of 652 Spruell Road, Monroe, and Nicholas Lawson, 18, of 2111 Burg Jones Lane, Monroe, were booked into Ouachita Correctional Center, each on a charge of attempted second-degree murder.
Kent said shortly after 7 p.m., the alleged victim, 17, and his girlfriend were walking out of Burlington Coat Factory at the same time as Coleman and Lawson. He said for unknown reasons, the pair started a fight with the victim.
According to Kent, Coleman and Lawson armed themselves with a baseball bat and a firearm. He said the pair then took turns striking the victim with the bat.
Kent said the suspects then passed the firearm between themselves before Lawson fired two shots at the victim, striking him with one. He said the round passed through the victim’s arm and into his chest.
A small pool of blood was on the ground a short distance from what was believed to have been the victim’s white Cadillac. Police cordoned off a crime scene and had tape on seven vehicles, including the Cadillac.
Also on the scene were Monroe Fire Department and AMR units.
Kent said the victim, whose name was not released, was taken by ambulance to St. Francis Medical Center, where he remained in stable condition Sunday evening.
Kent said police apprehended Coleman at his residence Saturday night and Lawson was found at a relative’s residence early Sunday morning.
Mall manager Randy Barnett said he was grateful for the response by Monroe police.
“I know they got out here quick,” Barnett said. “I feel like this was an isolated incident.”
Barnett said he felt the mall’s security procedures worked well in this emergency situation.
Kent said witnesses at the mall identified the pair as the suspects. He said the incident remains under investigation.
Chester IL May 8 2011 Christopher Coleman, the former security chief for televangelist Joyce Meyer, was found guilty this week of murdering his family. Jurors also determined that he is eligible for the death penalty.
Coleman was convicted Thursday of strangling his wife and two sons, who were 11 and 9, in 2009. The trial will continue Monday when the jury decides whether he should receive the death sentence.
“If there was ever a reason for a death penalty I think it would be for a father who murdered his wife and two defenseless young boys, innocent as they are, in their beds,” prosecutor Ed Parkinson said, according to The Associated Press.
The son of a pastor, Coleman had called police from a gym on May 5, 2009, and asked a police officer who had investigated prior threats related to the family to check on them after calls to the house allegedly went unanswered.
When police got to the house later that morning, they found the bodies of his 31-year-old wife and two children all strangled with some type of wire, rope or cord. Spray-painted across the walls of the house, meanwhile, were obscenities that appeared to have been directed at Sheri Coleman, including the words “punished,” “wh*re paid,” “u have paid,” and “I saw you leave, [expletive] you, I am always watching.”
Coleman resigned soon after from his position at Joyce Meyer Ministries after being questioned about a violation of the ministry’s moral conduct policy. He had served as a bodyguard to Meyer while she traveled.
Pulled into the case, Meyer testified that she was unaware that Coleman was having an affair until she was informed by the police. According to the Belleville News Democrat, the well-known evangelist and speaker said he would have been fired if he was having an extra-marital affair.
Prosecutors argued that Coleman carried out the murder to keep his job and continue his relationship with the other woman, who was his wife’s friend.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed earlier this week in Monroe County in Illinois by the wife’s family against Joyce Meyer Ministries “for its failure to recognize that accused family murderer Christopher Coleman was a threat to his wife and two sons,” according to a statement.
The lawsuit claims that the organization should have been aware of Coleman being a threat because he was sending threatening messages to his family from his employee issued computer and cell phone.
“This tragic murder would have been preventable if Joyce Meyer Ministries had responded to the threats and the extramarital affair and warned Sheri appropriately,” said Antonio M. Romanucci, an attorney.
The death penalty was abolished in Illinois and it takes effect on July 1. Gov. Pat Quinn said he’ll commute any death sentences to life in prison.
COLUMBIA MO May 20 2009 — Christopher Coleman was arrested Tuesday and charged with strangling to death his wife and two sons, Maj. Jeff Connor, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis, announced Tuesday.
Connor made the announcement about 10:30 p.m. Police arrested Coleman, 32, at his parents’ home in Chester earlier Tuesday. He was being held without bond and is scheduled to appear this morning before a Monroe County judge.
Coleman was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife, Sherry, 31, and their sons, Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9. “They were murdered by forms of ligature strangulation,” Connor said.
Investigators turned over evidence last week to Monroe County State’s Attorney Kris Reitz and said it could take as long as eight weeks before it was processed.
“We got some information tonight that secured the warrant,” Connor said. “I’ve been talking about how we were waiting for some forensic evidence, forensic testimony, different things, and it all just started coming together. And for several days now, we’ve been close. It’s just tonight there was some more evidence that came forward and we were able to solidify the case.”
He declined to elaborate.
The case is still open and the squad is still activated, Connor said. Asked whether police have other suspects, Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said he would not say that they do not. Connor has said that there is a single suspect who specifically targeted the family.
“We have a long road ahead of us,” Connor said. “The Columbia Police Department is going to handle this case for years to come.”
Edwards said that it would have taken his small police force years to solve the case without the help of the Major Case Squad.
“When the Major Case Squad disbanded last Friday, it was somewhat of a lonely feeling,” Edwards said. “We knew there was a certain level we needed to reach before an arrest could be made.”
Edwards thanked the squad and the public, whose tips he said were very helpful.
“May 5 was one of the worst days in my 16 years,” he said. “Today, we take a small step in making things better.”
Police are still asking anyone who knows the Coleman family to contact the Major Case Squad at 281-5151.
About 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Columbia police station, Coleman, wearing an orange jumpsuit, was walked to a waiting squad car for transfer to the Monroe County Jail. He wore a solemn expression and kept his eyes lowered, ignoring questions. The case has attracted nationwide media attention, and a CNN crew was reportedly on the scene.
The investigation took the 20 members of the Major Case Squad to Missouri, Florida, Springfield and Chicago. Police would not speculate on a motive for the killings. They said Coleman has been under surveillance since the Major Case Squad turned the case over to the Monroe County prosecutor’s office.
“We’ve done all we could to solve this as quickly as we could, but also as efficiently as we could,” Connor said.
Police found the bodies of Sheri Coleman and the couple’s young sons early on May 5 after Christopher Coleman called police from a Gold’s Gym in south St. Louis and asked police to check on them.
Coleman resigned from his security job with Joyce Meyer Ministries after a “violation of moral conduct,” a ministry spokesman said Monday. Coleman resigned last week, but ministry spokesman Roby Walker declined to disclose the specifics of his resignation.
Coleman’s attorney, William Margulis, declined to comment about the resignation Monday.
Coleman worked as a full-time security officer for Meyer, but Walker did not disclose the nature of his duties.
Connor confirmed Monday that investigators interviewed several “potential witnesses” in the Tampa, Fla., area. He would not disclose why investigators interviewed those people or the nature of their relationship.
Joyce Meyer offered conferences in Tampa in November 2008 and February, but Walker did not state whether Coleman was working there for Meyer during the conferences.
Garett and Gavin attended Parkview Elementary School, Garett was in fourth grade and Gavin in third. They loved sports and both played on the Columbia Blue Jay football team.
The bodies of Sheri Coleman and the couple’s boys were interred May 13 at Evergreen Cemetery in Chester after the remains were returned from a funeral service in Hillside, near Chicago, where members of Sheri Coleman’s family held separate services.
“Our investigation reveals who is responsible for these deaths,” said Maj. Jeff Connor, deputy commander of the Major Case Squad, adding it was “one person.”
He said he is “still anticipating charges in the future.”
Connor would not say whether that suspect is Christopher Coleman, whose wife, Sheri, 31, and sons Garett, 11, and Gavin, 9, were found dead in their bedrooms last week.
Police have kept a very obvious surveillance on Coleman, virtually camping out near his parents’ home in Chester, Ill., where he has stayed. The victims were buried Wednesday at Evergreen Cemetery in Chester, and Coleman was at the grave site. Later, detectives followed Coleman and his parents to what a lawyer said was a doctor’s appointment in Cape Girardeau for his mother.
On Monday, police got a court order to take fingerprints from Coleman, a former Marine and now a security officer for the worldwide Joyce Meyer Ministries, based in Jefferson County.
But Wednesday afternoon, officers watching the house in Chester abruptly left town. Connor said they would stop monitoring Coleman’s movements.
The Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that police have interviewed a woman in Largo, Fla., whom they said was Coleman’s girlfriend. The woman, a friend of Sheri Coleman’s since at least high school and onetime hostess at a men’s club, has not responded to messages left at her parents’ home and current workplace, where she is a cocktail waitress.
Coleman’s lawyers have declined to comment on whether he had a girlfriend. Sheri Coleman’s relatives have said they were unaware of an affair.
Connor would not discuss it, except to confirm that police had been to Florida.
He said investigators presented their evidence Wednesday to Monroe County State’s Attorney Kris Reitz. “It was decided at this time to defer charges until further forensics (testing) comes back, and/or further interviews, documents, reports,” the detective said.
Reitz told a reporter later Wednesday, “I can’t talk about the progress of the investigation. I don’t have any comment beyond that.”
Without witnesses, police have been left to try to build a circumstantial case based on various factors, such as time of death.
Officials assured neighbors from the start that the victims appeared to have been specifically targeted.
Christopher Coleman had complained of work-related threats, but police would not give details.
Connor, of the Granite City police, said the Major Case Squad will decide today whether to continue or turn the investigation back to Columbia police. The squad is a multi-agency cooperative that provides short-term manpower and expertise to small police departments.
By law, Reitz has two ways to bring charges: He can file a complaint and leave a judge to decide in a public preliminary hearing if the evidence is sufficient for trial. Or he can take the evidence to a grand jury, which would decide in secret if a trial is warranted. Either way, Illinois has a rigid timetable if someone under charges demands a speedy trial.
The case has drawn national attention to a mainly rural county that rarely sees a murder, let alone three at once. Monroe County’s last big murder case came a few years ago.
In October 2004, Reitz filed a first-degree murder charge against the husband of Twila Wiley, 21, a pregnant woman found shot to death 14 months earlier in a park at Waterloo. The prosecution cited her extramarital affair as a motive, but the jury acquitted the man after the defense argued that her death was really a suicide.
Police said Christopher Coleman left home at 2854 Robert Avenue about 5:45 a.m. May 5 to work out at a gym in St. Louis County, and called police shortly before 7 a.m. because he could not reach his family by phone. Officers found the bodies. Neighbors said police told them the victims were strangled.
Connor said detectives have focused a search along a stretch of Interstate 255 near the Jefferson Barracks Bridge, not mentioning that it would be Coleman’s route to the gym.
“We believe there was evidence discarded along this route,” he explained, but did not say what.
Connor also said a window was found open in the back of the house, with no sign that it was forced.
Neither Coleman nor his immediate family members have spoken publicly about the crime.
Derek Doiron, a longtime family friend, said Coleman’s parents are standing behind their son and do not believe he had anything to do with the slayings. Doiron is associate pastor at Grace Church in Chester, where Chris Coleman’s father, Ronald Coleman, is a minister.
“There is still somebody who is capable of murder still out there,” Doiron said.
He emphasized that he is not a spokesman for the church or family, but said he talks frequently with them.
“It’s just been very difficult for the family,” he said. “That’s the side you don’t see or you don’t hear. They are breaking down. … Just because you don’t see them crying doesn’t mean they don’t hurt.”
Doiron said investigators have not shared any details of the case with the Colemans. “It’s been a week and we don’t have any information,” he said.
He said that while some seem to be pointing a finger at Christopher Coleman, the family believes the victims were targeted by an outsider. He said he believes Coleman is not capable of such acts.
“Look at his history and the things that he’s done in his lifetime,” Doiron said. “He’s got an exemplary record.”
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