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Barrage of questions remains after barrage of shots outside Clinton Burger King

Posted May 30
Updated May 31

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— Seven Clinton police officers and a member of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol were on administrative leave Monday after they fired on an armed man to end a stand off in a Burger King parking lot. The suspensions for the officers are standard procedure whenever law enforcement officers are involved in a shooting.

Police said John Mark Coffey, 53, of Warsaw, pulled into the parking lot at 100 Southeast Blvd. just before midnight on Saturday and asked another driver to call 911.

“He’s driving a white, looks like a Dodge pickup truck and he’s just sitting here in the parking lot with his parking lights on and begged us to call 911 for him,” a caller told dispatchers.

Radio traffic paints the picture over the next 30 minutes as emergency dispatchers summoned local officers and the Highway Patrol to the scene.

“Back up, back up, back up. He’s got a gun. Back up,” one of the first arriving officers can be heard saying over his radio.

Meanwhile, others knocked on doors to make sure surrounding houses were empty and no innocent people were in the line of fire.

Dispatchers called the Burger King to ask that customers be kept inside.

"I need you to lock your doors. I need everyone to stay in the building. And you need to notify whoever is at the drive-thru that they need to get that vehicle away from that area," a Sampson County dispatcher told the person who answered the phone in the restaurant.

Clinton Chief of Police Jay Tilley said Coffey sat alone in his truck with a shotgun on his lap while officers tried to negotiate with him.

It is not clear what brought Coffey to that place and time or what prompted his next move. After about 30 minutes, Tilley said, he pointed his gun at officers, and they opened fire and killed him.

Eyewitnesses with cellphones recorded the barrage of shots and shouting.

Coffey was pronounced dead at the scene. No law enforcement officers were injured.

The State Bureau of Investigation will review video from five body cameras and four in-car video cameras which were activated during the shooting.

5 Comments

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  • Jerry Powell May 31, 12:29 p.m.
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    The AR was one of the officer's...

  • Lance Cotten May 31, 10:15 a.m.
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    Agreed... why photo of AR-15 when article clearly states he had a shotgun.... unless he in fact did have an AR... suicide by police

  • Bob Bucy May 31, 9:39 a.m.
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    It does sadly appear to be a classic case of suicide by police. However, the article states that the deceased was holding a shotgun in his lap, so I have no idea why a picture of an AR-15 is included in the article other than to try and stir up emotions.

  • Paul Donovan May 30, 4:27 p.m.
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    Suicide by police

  • Jeffrey Derry May 30, 2:58 p.m.
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    When a policeman tells u to put gun down.......