Victim, officers ID’d

By: By Sherry Matthews - smatthews

The names of all those involved in the fatal Sunday morning shooting in a fast food parking lot have been released, even as investigations continue by both state and local law enforcement entities, including the review of in-car and body-worn camera system videos recorded by responding officers.

According to information released by Clinton Police Chief Jay Tilley Monday, the gun-wielding man shot by law enforcement officers at Burger King over the weekend was 53-year-old Warsaw resident John Mark Coffey.

The officers involved in the shooting, and currently on administrative leave, include Lt. R.K. Dalton, an 11-year veteran with the Clinton force; Sgt. A.D. Clowney, a 10-year veteran of the department; Detective S.M. Crespo, a two-year veteran; Cpl. J.A. Kittrell, an 11-year veteran; Cpl. J.A. Snell, a two-year veteran; Officer A.W. McDuffie, a one-year veteran; Officer B.N. Hall, a one-year veteran; and N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper M. High, who has been with the HP for one year.

An autopsy on Coffey’s body isn’t expected to be completed before Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest. According to Sampson County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Barr, that autopsy will be performed at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Chapel Hill. Dr. Barr turned the case over to the state ME’s office, he said, because of the nature of the case.

“Due to the recent high profile of these type incidents, I believe it better serves the system if I turn this over to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office,” he noted in a telephone interview late Sunday afternoon. “After talking to those folks, and because of the high number of homicides, I understand it could be later this week, Tuesday or more likely Wednesday, before we can even expect a completed autopsy.”

The incident began around midnight Sunday when officers responded to a 911 call at the Burger King at 100 Southeast Blvd. in Clinton. According to Tilley, a citizen made the call to 911, stating that a man had asked that the call be made. That man, the caller said, was sitting by himself in a white Dodge truck in the Burger King parking lot with the park lights on. No reason was given for why police were needed.

Two officers arrived on scene around 12:01 a.m., finding the man with a shotgun in his possession. According to Tilley’s release, one of the officers radioed the situation and both officers backed away, taking cover and beginning negotiations for a surrender.

Minutes later, six additional Clinton police officers and one Highway Patrol trooper responded, cordoning off the parking lot to ensure everyone’s safety.

Negotiations, Tilley noted in the release, continued for approximately 20 minutes, with officers attempting to get Coffey to put his weapon down. A Clinton Police commander, the chief noted, was on the scene and overseeing the incident.

“During this time, the commander coordinated with officers on the scene and the E911 telecommunicator to ensure the safety of a nearby hone and the Burger King. The commander also asked for an EMS unit to stage near the scene,” Tilley said in the release.

Coffey, the release noted, told officers during the negotiations that he had five rounds of ammunition and was not coming out of his vehicle. Reports note that he was “unresponsive and would not comply with” officers’ requests to put the shotgun down.

Just under 20 minutes after officers arrived, Coffey, reports note, opened the driver’s door and pointed a weapon at the officers who, in turn, fired multiple rounds at the man, killing him.

EMS was immediately called to the scene as werr agents with the State Bureua of Investigation. Tilley said it was the Police Department’s standard procedure to call in the SBI to assist in an investigation.

As part of the probe, Tilley aid being turned over to the SBI are in-car and body camera videos taken during the incident. Tilley said there were five body cameras and four in-car video cameras recording the officers’ response. “The systems were activated at the time of the officers’ arrival and continued recording throughout the event, to include the shooting,” the police chief pointed out.

The results of the investigation will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office, he stated in the release, noting that the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit was also conducting an administrative probe into the shooting, along with the SBI.

By Sherry Matthews


Burger King, at the corner of U.S. 701 and College Street in Clinton, was business as usual Monday morning, a day after an armed man, pointing a weapon at police, was shot and killed in the parking lot. (Sherry Matthews|Sampson Independent) King, at the corner of U.S. 701 and College Street in Clinton, was business as usual Monday morning, a day after an armed man, pointing a weapon at police, was shot and killed in the parking lot. (Sherry Matthews|Sampson Independent)