Police: Cofflin bought parts at gun show

Written by Gordon Rago/York Daily Record | Jan 7, 2016 4:50 AM

Howard Cofflin(Photo: Baltimore County Police Department)

Bondsman who posted bail, recalls Howard Cofflin telling him he worked for NASA

(Undated) -- When Howard Cofflin was charged on Wednesday with planning to kill police and his ex-girlfriend, Pennsylvania State Police said he was in the process of using parts to build a rifle.

Cofflin was prohibited from buying a gun in Maryland -- where he was most recently living -- because of prior criminal convictions, Baltimore County Police said.

But he was able to purchase some of the parts at a gun show in Harrisburg, Baltimore County Police spokesman Cpl. John Wachter said.

Cofflin has faced criminal charges in Maryland dating back to 1978 and 1995, when he was charged with resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and destruction of property, preventing him from owning a gun or bullets, the department said.

The detail of him getting parts at the gun show comes amid a national debate surrounding gun control, most recently after President Barack Obama took executive action this week to tighten criminal background checks.

Part of Obama's plan goes after a loophole in regard to firearms that are sold at gun shows or online, and looks to get stricter background checks at those points of sale.

In October 2015, Maryland online court records show, Cofflin was charged with illegal possession of ammunition and a rifle/shotgun with an added description on the charge saying "mental disorder/violent behavior." The full police report related to that case could not be obtained on Wednesday.

The online court filings also show that Cofflin was found guilty of destruction of property and telephone misuse by making repeated calls in 1993.

Bondsman applies for bail piece

On Wednesday, Steve Schiding recalled his encounters with Cofflin.

The York bail bondsman had gotten a call from Cofflin in the fall. He  told Schiding that he'd been inappropriately charged with making terroristic threats.

The charge was related to his ex-girlfriend, Tina Snyder, who was granted a Protection From Abuse order against him on Aug. 27.

The PFA prohibited Cofflin from abusing or harassing Snyder and did not allow him to stay at his girlfriend's home on Highland Road in Loganville, according to the order.

Cofflin's bail was set at $25,000 for the threats charge and $50,000 for violating the PFA, according to Schiding and online court records.

After he posted his bail, Schiding helped Cofflin get a room at a local hotel in York. He remembered asking Cofflin what he did for a living. It was a casual conversation the two had.

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

Cofflin followed through with everything Schiding told him. But then, a short time later, Schiding got another phone call. He was advised that Cofflin was making threats against police.

"I was advised to stay away from him," Schiding recalled. He was unable to say if it was the police who told him that.

So, in November, Schiding applied for a bail piece, online court records show.

A bail piece is a document that gives Schiding the authority to revoke bail and also apprehend an individual and to incarcerate him or her. In this case, Cofflin broke a condition of his bail by allegedly threatening the police, Schiding said.

"I was in a position to get the bail piece and step off his bail and let the authorities take over," he said.

The bail piece was returned on Nov. 13, court records show.

This article comes to us through a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.


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