Accused Capitol Rioter Sought Out Cruz To Discuss “Election Fraud”
A 71-year-old Army veteran who was arrested with five loaded firearms and 11 homemade molotov cocktails near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and who attempted to engage Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in discussions about “election fraud” has been ordered to remain behind bars until his trial.
Lonnie Leroy Coffman of Falkville, Ala., was detained purely by happenstance after police spotted weapons in his red pickup truck while they were searching a section of Capitol Hill that had been sealed off because pipe bombs had been discovered at the nearby Republican and Democratic party headquarters buildings.
A tracking device recovered from Coffman’s truck showed that on Dec. 11 he drove around the U.S. Capitol and attempted to drive to Cruz’s D.C.-area residence. That same day, Coffman called Cruz’s Senate office.
Staffers for the Texas senator concluded that Coffman “did not seem threatening,” but seemed “unbalanced” or “not 100% there” and deemed his comments “odd enough to record.”
Office notes of Coffman’s call stated: “Man says that he went to [Senator Cruz’s] DC home to visit him with no answer at the door, and then called to try to arrange a meeting with him over the phone. He is also looking for contact info for S. Hannity, M. Levin, and R. Limbaugh,” the judge’s ruling said, referring to conservative commentators Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh.
When he was apprehended Coffman was in possession of the 11 homemade molotov cocktails, a rifle, a shotgun, two 9mm pistols, a .22-caliber pistol – all loaded – as well as a crossbow, machete, stun gun and smoke devices.
What investigators have uncovered about Coffman since his arrest is unsettling. According to FBI charging papers, Coffman kept additional firearms, improvised explosives and papers in his home related to an armed group in which he participated in 2014 in Brownsville, Tex. Camp Lonestar was set up that year by armed citizens in military fatigues with the stated goal of pushing back illegal immigrants into Mexico.
In issuing the decision to keep the Alabama man behind bars, a federal judge said the evidence “raises serious concerns about Mr. Coffman’s desire and ability to engage in politically motivated violence” and shows that he poses too great a risk of flight and public dangerousness to free him.