What began Wednesday morning as a welfare check on two reclusive brothers ended nearly six hours later after a Kentucky State Police special response team in an armored personnel carrier detonated pepper gas inside the Forkland Road home, forcing the men to exit and surrender.
James Wesley Coffman, 59, and Shirley Coffman, 47, were each charged with first-degree wanton endangerment and third-degree terroristic threatening following the standoff, during which one of the men brandished a weapon at social workers and police officers on three separate occasions.
The brothers, who were described by police and neighbors as mentally challenged, are being held without bond today at the Boyle County Detention Center.
The incident began about 9 a.m. when a male supervisor and two female interns from Boyle County Adult Protective Services went to 8050 Forkland Road for a welfare check. The men were uncooperative, and one of them pulled out a handgun, police said. Boyle Deputies Derek Robbins and Casey McCoy, and Junction City Police Chief Merl Baldwin responded, and again the men were uncooperative and a pistol was brandished, Sheriff Marty Elliott said.
KSP’s special response team was then called to the scene about 10:30 a.m., and Forkland Road was closed on both sides of the home while officers arrived and geared up for action. Capt. Lisa Rudzinski, commander of KSP Post 7 in Richmond, was among more than a dozen officers present, and the specially-equipped and armored black SUV was brought in.
About 3 p.m, the personnel carrier containing six SRT members moved in on the house, Trooper Paul Blanton said. A microphone and loudspeaker were used to make contact with the men in the home. One of the men came outside and again brandished a gun before returning inside, police said. Cannisters of pepper gas were then deployed, and the men came out. One complied with officers’ commands to surrender, but the other was uncooperative and had to be wrestled to the ground, said Elliott, who witnessed the event.
“When a man comes out of the house with a gun and he’s waving it at troopers, he’s crossed the line there and you have to exercise great restraint,” Elliott said. “You’re dealing with people who have mental disabilities and are not rational. Extricating them safely and with no one getting hurt is the goal. This was done the way it should have been done.”
Two guns were recovered from the home, but Elliott said he believes only one gun was involved in the standoff. The sheriff was not sure which of the men brandished the weapon.
According to police and neighbors, Shirley Coffman has rarely left the home where the brothers have lived for at least 20 years. Wesley Coffman is known to ride a bike to Junction City on occasion to purchase supplies.
Susan Davidson, who lives on nearby Oscar Johnson Road and works at the BP Station in Junction City, said she “never laid eyes on” Shirley Coffman in the fours years she’s lived and worked in the area but slowly got to know Wesley Coffman.
“It took me a year to get him to talk to me, and if you talk to him, he’s a real nice fellow,” she said.
Wesley Coffman “stops in the store sometimes for a Coke, some cakes and a pack of smokes. I’ve never seen him smoke, so they must have been for his brother. They never did bother anybody or nothing.”
Wesley Coffman was involved in a minor traffic accident with his bike on Monday. When Deputy McCoy investigated the incident, Wesley Coffman was uncooperative and would not provide any information, Elliott said. The brothers were receiving help from social services, so McCoy called there to get information, which led to the welfare check by social workers on Wednesday morning, the sheriff explained.
Blanton, the KSP spokesman, said the social workers went to the home for a general welfare check, to make sure the house had heat and food, and that the brothers were all right.
“The reason everyone came out here — the social workers, the police — was to check and make sure these guys are OK,” Blanton said.