A 48-year old Jefferson man is lucky to be alive this morning after being arrested for pointing a loaded firearm at a Marion County Sheriff's deputy.
Deputy Cliff Self was working a routine patrol shift at about 9:15pm Monday evening. He was sitting in his parked patrol vehicle in the parking lot of the Jefferson Grade School, 615 North 2nd Street. Self noticed a red laser dot on his chest. From his experience and training, he realized he was in imminent danger as lasers are often attached to firearms and used to aim at targets.
The deputy immediately called for back up, but also knew he had to react to the threat posed to his personal safety. He determined that the laser was being aimed from a motor home, parked across the street from the school.
As he approached the motor home in the darkness, he could see that the laser was still aimed at his chest. With his duty weapon drawn, he took the suspect, Michael Coats, into custody.
Following Self's commands, Coats dropped the laser equipped, loaded Kimber Model 1911 .45 caliber semi-auto pistol. The weapon obviously posed a significant threat to the deputy. A search of the suspect's motor home revealed a silencer for the Kimber, a holster, a look-a-like .177 pellet handgun, a hunting knife, a sword and numerous rounds of ammunition.
Coats told the deputy he pointed the laser and weapon at him because the lights from the patrol vehicle were disturbing him. He claimed not to realize the marked patrol car was a law enforcement vehicle. Deputy Self was also wearing a Sheriff's Office patrol uniform.
Enforcement Commander Eric Hlad commented, "Mr. Coats is extremely fortunate that Deputy Self's training and experience provided him options to employing the use of deadly force. This incident could well have ended in tragedy."
Coats, who was intoxicated at the time of the incident, was booked at the Marion County jail on charges of menacing, reckless endangerment, unlawful use of a firearm and point a weapon at another. He will appear in court at 3:00pm, Tuesday. Until that time, he is being held on $27,500 bail.