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Howard Cofflin had worked for NASA contractor in Md.

Written by Brett Sholtis/York Daily Record | Jan 8, 2016 1:32 PM
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Howard Cofflin(Photo: Baltimore County Police Department)

Howard Cofflin, charged with plans to blow up a police barracks and kill his ex girlfriend, had worked on NASA projects.

(Undated) -- Steve Schiding remembers having a casual conversation in September with Howard T. Cofflin.

"He told me he was a rocket scientist for NASA," Schiding said on Wednesday. "He was a very nice guy, a really bright man."

Schiding, a York bail bondsman, said Cofflin had called him to help him post his bail and get out of prison for charges stemming from alleged threats to kill his ex-girlfriend and violating a Protection From Abuse order.

Cofflin now faces multiple charges including attempted murder, terrorism and threat to use weapons of mass destruction after he told his attorney he plans to blow up a Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Loganville and murder his ex-girlfriend.

It's not exactly true that Cofflin worked for NASA, said Mark Hess, a spokesman at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. However, Cofflin did work for Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Hess said, an engineering company also known as "SGT", that NASA contracts for projects.

"We build a lot of spacecraft and hardware," Hess said. "They do a lot of supporting environmental testing to get satellites and instruments ready for space."

Hess said SGT often works on the premises at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, though he didn't know whether Cofflin had been on the site. Attempts to reach SGT on Thursday were not immediately successful.

"It wouldn't be strange at all for SGT employees to be inside the gate," Hess said.

SGT's workforce includes both hands-on technicians and highly-skilled engineers, Hess said. He didn't know what work Cofflin had done, and officials for SGT weren't immediately available for comment.

NASA records didn't show when Cofflin began working for SGT, but did show that he was terminated in 2007, Hess said.

Cofflin's education and experience prior to working for SGT is unclear. Cofflin did say he had a "mechanical engineering background" according to a Pennsylvania State Police criminal complaint, a skill-set that he said would help him to complete construction of an AR-15 rifle "by milling the remaining lower receiver components." Cofflin's felony criminal record would have prevented him from buying a firearm in Maryland, Baltimore County police have said.

Cofflin is being held in Baltimore County Detention Center, police said.

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